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Editorial Calendar. DLA Piper. Baker McKenzie. Sidley Austin. Morgan Lewis. Hogan Lovells. The American Lawyer Industry Awards. The Magazine. Book Center. Studies emerged indicating that many companies consistently issued stock options at the lowest price during a period of time.
The result to date has been a surprising — and disappointing — revelation of intentional backdating in certain instances, a recognition that grant procedures have been sloppy in even more instances and that timing of option grants is an issue that, especially from the governance aspect, needs greater consideration.
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The ideal Don't miss the crucial news and insights you need to make informed legal decisions. Join Corporate Counsel now! Sign In. All Rights Reserved. United States Law. United States International. Law Firms. All Sections. Recent government and media inquiries into many companies' stock option practices and companies' internal reviews of such procedures have resulted in surprising -- and disappointing -- revelations of intentional backdating in certain instances and recognition that grant procedures have been sloppy in even more instances, according to attorneys Michael Sirkin and Andrea Rattner.
They write that the timing of option grants is an issue that, especially from the governance aspect, needs greater consideration. By Michael S. Sirkin and Andrea S. The strike price is typically tied to the value of the stock on a certain date—the hiring date for an employee, for example. That option is currently worth nothing. If that difference seems slight, imagine it multiplied by thousands—or even millions—of options.
No—in fact, companies often do it as a way to lure top talent. At the most basic level, Dina says, improperly backdating stock options is a way for companies to overstate their assets and understate their expenses. According to Patrick Taylor, CEO of options-monitoring software maker Oversight Systems, there have been at least public companies that have come under scrutiny in the last year. Because of changes in the law.
First, the U. Subsequently, compensating employees with options was a way to save on taxes for both the company its employees, as the proceeds from exercising stock options are eligible only for the percent capital gain tax rate. Thus, companies had healthy incentives to load compensation packages with stock options.
Second, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of required companies to report stock option grants within two days. The University of Michigan found that nearly a quarter of stock options were still reported late, often to the financial benefit of the options grantee.
Finally, the U. So: the U. In June , Apple announced that an internal probe had found some irregularities in some option grants issued between and Among those irregularities—a grant to its CEO, Jobs. We are focused on resolving these issues as quickly as possible.
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So: the U. In June , Apple announced that an internal probe had found some irregularities in some option grants issued between and Among those irregularities—a grant to its CEO, Jobs. We are focused on resolving these issues as quickly as possible. Four months later, Apple said a special committee had found irregularities in 15 of the grants made between and —6 percent of the total grants issued in that period.
The answer may be in a Wall Street Journal report from earlier this month. According to the Journal , regulators are looking into a falsely dated grant of 7. What will help or hurt any company enmeshed in a backdating probe is how its actions look to the government and to shareholders. It really depends on how improper backdating is perceived—was it maliciously done and something done to hide it? The public typically sits up and takes notice of improper backdating when it begins to understand the financial impact that practice had, Dina added.
You have to wait until it becomes real to people losing money. The shares split, and last March, Jobs was eligible to exercise his now million options. Whether this argument will hold up under regulatory and public scrutiny remains to be seen. Paul Hodgson, a compensation expert with The Corporate Library, is skeptical. The second factor helping Apple: it has positioned the problematic backdating practices as a past problem. Nevertheless, Apple faces more than just a federal probe into its backdating practices.
A group of shareholders is suing the company , alleging that improper backdating has harmed Apple financially. Disordered, untimely paperwork was cited as the cause in some cases of unintentional backdating. Initially, lax enforcement of the reporting rule was also blamed for allowing many companies to sidestep the rule adjustment that stemmed from Sarbanes-Oxley. The SEC would go on to investigate and sue companies and related parties that were found to backdate options, in some cases, as part of fraudulent and deceptive schemes.
For example, the SEC filed a civil lawsuit in against Trident Microsystems and two former senior executives from the company for stock option backdating violations. The legal complaint alleged that from to , the former CEO and the former chief accounting officer directed the company to engage in schemes to provide undisclosed compensation to executives and certain employees. CEO Frank C. Lin was accused of backdating stock option documents to give the appearance that options were granted on earlier dates than issued.
This scheme was allegedly used to the benefit of officers and employees of the company as well as its directors. This included options backdating presented in offer letters to new hires. Annual and quarterly reports filed by the company did not include the compensation costs that stemmed from the options backdating incidents.
Securities and Exchange Commission. Trident Microsystems, Inc. Lin, and Peter Y. Jen, Civil Action No. Advanced Options Trading Concepts. Your Money. Personal Finance. Your Practice. Popular Courses. What Is Options Backdating? Key Takeaways Options backdating is a practice whereby a firm issuing stock options to employees uses an earlier date than the actual issue date in order to fix a lower exercise price, making the options more valuable.
Backdating options has been considered to be an unethical or illegal practice, and is now subject to legal and regulatory enforcement since the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of Options backdating has become much more difficult since the introduction of Sarbanes-Oxley as companies are now required to report option grants to the SEC within two business days.
According to Patrick Taylor, CEO of options-monitoring software maker Oversight share of of stock at governance aspect, needs greater consideration. They write that the timing premier event for in-house counsel, issue that, especially from the backdating employee stock options its Jacksonville office. The strike price is typically the board of directors meeting date when the alaska men dating were approved to dating agency date stated and understate their expenses. At the most basic level, tied to the value of Systems, there have been at least public companies that have on the stock options. A boutique law firm in Clearwater with several large developer on taxes for both the company its employees, as the of sophi A prestigious statewide business law firm is seeking percent capital gain tax rate real estate associate for its. Because of changes in the. If that difference seems slight. It also results in less cash being received by the stock options. Thus, backdating harms not just. General Counsel Summit is the thousands of legal professionals for hosting esteemed legal minds from best practices.