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Oppo introduces new employee equity plan in years-long path to IPO

Written by Mengyuan Ge Published on     2 mins read

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The company is restructuring incentives to retain talent.

Smartphone brand Oppo plans to grant employees more shares in their salary package, 36Kr reported, quoting an internal letter by Oppo’s founder Tony Chen.

The adjusted employee stock ownership plan, or ESOP, is similar to one that is implemented by Oppo sibling brand Vivo. Both Oppo and Vivo are subsidiaries of BBK Electronics, a conglomerate based in Dongguan, China.

Within Oppo, dedicated group chat channels are set up where the company’s employees freely trade shares with one another, according to one staff member who spoke to 36Kr. These groups are informally referred to as a “black market.” After agreements are formed, transfers of ownership are executed by Oppo’s finance department at BBK’s headquarters.

The existing arrangement allows employees to purchase Oppo shares at a set price. The company does not issue shares as a form of compensation like many other tech companies. Chen acknowledged in his letter that this system does not incentivize employees to remain with Oppo for extended periods.

The new system is intended to remedy this shortcoming and retain talent. Senior staff will receive shares as part of their annual bonuses, and company shares will be part of general salary packages, according to Chen.

This revamp, which rewards current employees who intend to remain as part of the company, has led to renewed speculation that Oppo may be planning an initial public offering. Oppo did not respond to KrASIA’s request for comment regarding their roadmap for an IPO.

A former Oppo employee told 36Kr that major accounting firms dispatched auditors in early 2021 to produce the requisite documentation for an IPO. However, the company has not indicated that it has a timetable leading to a public offering.

Oppo is flush with capital. The company has never taken external financing since its inception in 2004. Its phones are popular in emerging markets. In the first half of 2021, it led in global shipments for 5G phones, the company said in a press statement released in early October. And, the company is reportedly developing its own semiconductors for phones.

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