DUBLIN — Yankee Publishing Inc., a family-owned business for 84 years, sold 30% of its shares to the company’s employees through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan or ESOP, the company announced Friday.

The company, with 85 employees in Dublin and Manchester, publishes Yankee, The Old Farmer’s Almanac, New Hampshire Magazine, NH Business Review, ParentingNH, Family Tree Magazine, and other publications and websites.

The third- and fourth-generation shareholders of Yankee Publishing wanted a plan that would provide the opportunity for shareholders to sell their shares while preserving the independence of the company, according to a news release.

“If we had sold the assets of the company to different buyers, it would have been very disruptive,” said Jamie Trowbridge, president and CEO, in a statement. “The family members would not accept a solution that resulted in the business being broken up and our employees losing their jobs.”

The ESOP was the best solution, Trowbridge said, because the ownership of the company will be gradually transferred to employees. The family members plan to sell all of the company’s stock to the ESOP over time. No change in management or operations will be caused by the sale, the company said.

An ESOP is a company-sponsored retirement plan governed by the IRS regulations that pertain to 401(k) and 403(b) plans. Employees earn shares in the ESOP over time and are paid for them after they retire or leave. Employees do not pay for the shares. The company pays for the shares out of its profits.