COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Directors of Resource Bancshares Mortgage Group Inc. have approved an employee stock ownership plan.

Lee Shelton, vice chairman and managing director, said that "at a time when other mortgage companies are announcing significant employee layoffs, RBMG continues to grow and meet its goals through the dedication and efforts of its people."

"The ESOP will allow our employees to participate as shareholders in this success ... and maintain our collective focus on the company's mission and goals," he added.

The plan will initially be funded with a $2 million loan from the company.

The announcement said purchases of the company's stock would be made from time to time on the open market.

The timing of these purchases would be determined by the trustees of the ESOP.

At current market prices, more than 200,000 shares could be purchased, or about 2% of the stock outstanding.

Traded on Nasdaq

The shares, traded on Nasdaq, have been selling for between $8 and $9 recently.

Company directors also approved a 5% stock dividend, payable Sept. 12 to holders of record of Sept. 1.

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