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A somewhat pejorative term for grants of restricted stock and restricted stock units. These are "free" in that you do not pay anything for them (unlike stock options, which must be exercised). Rather, vesting in restricted stock and RSUs is based on length of employment or the attainment of performance goals.
In the context of stock compensation in France, the phrase "free shares" translates the French collocation actions gratuites, which is the usual term denoting restricted stock or restricted stock units. See the entry on France in the Global Tax Guide.
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