Golden Share Model

Wäschbar

Steward-Ownership Story

Triaz was founded by Leo Pröstler as Germany’s first organic textile and sustainable lifestyle mail order company. When it went bankrupt in 2001, Ernst Schütz bought the company from the bank for roughly € 7 million, growing it to a success. 

When Schütz was looking to retire, he did not want to leave it to his children, who he felt should live their own lives rather than continuing his. He also didn’t want to sell it off to private investors, who he felt wouldn’t safeguard the company’s mission and independence long term. Instead, he elected a steward-ownership structure to ensure that the new trustee-owners will not only be employees, but true voting-right owners. In return for Schütz giving up his dividend rights, he receives a pension from Triaz.

Mission

Help people to live and act in an environmentally sustainable way in their everyday life.

Products

Waschbär is “the green and socially responsible Amazon” of Europe. 50% of revenues come from ecological fashion, which they manufacture, and 50% from detergents, housekeeping products, and books.

Global Contributions

Waschbär was the first company decades ago to offer CO2 neutral shipping, they only sell products that can be recycled such as eco-friendly clothing and shoes.

Overview of Structure

The veto share model works like the Trust-Foundation-Model, the only difference being that a trust and foundation aren’t needed. Voting rights and dividend rights are separated and voting rights are held directly by the trustee-owners (CEOs and managers). Dividend rights are held by the company itself, by foundations and investors. The security of the structure is ensured by a golden-share which is held by a charitable foundation.

Here's how it works:

The Triaz GmbH has one shareholder: Artiz GmbH.

The Artiz GmbH has three groups of shareholders:

1. The Trustee-owners

2. The Purpose Foundation

3. Investors

Trustee owners

The trustee-owners have voting rights but no dividend rights. They can give themselves a set of rules and procedures. In the case of Triaz, the majority of voting rights will be held by only one person, while others hold minority stakes. They cannot pay themselves more than market-rate salaries. If trustee owners leave the company or if they break with the mission, a succession board chooses new trustee-owners for the company. The succession board consists of 4 people (experienced entrepreneurs and investors) from outside the company and 3-4 employees. The external members of the succession board co-opt new members if somebody leaves or retires.

Golden Share

The Golden Share is held by the Purpose Foundation. The foundation cannot interfere in business decisions. It only ensures that those sections of the statutes that ensure self-ownership cannot be changed. The Foundation itself has a statute that obligates it to veto any such changes. This can only be overridden by a majority vote of the companies that use the service of the Purpose Foundation.