Stock option backdating cases

Technically, any options granted today should bear a strike price of .In a backdated situation, however, the options would be granted today (August 16), but their listed day of granting would be June 1 in order to give the options a lower strike price.Subsequently, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) took an interest, followed by the securities plaintiffs’ bar and many corporations. The practice of options backdating, apparently widespread from 1996 through 2002, is widely believed to have been short-circuited by the enactment of Sarbanes-Oxley in 2002.Although backdating had not yet been recognized as a problem, the provisions of Sarbanes-Oxley requiring that insiders report the acquisition of securities, including options, within two days of receipt greatly hindered the ability of corporations to backdate options.

That means the company incurs an expense equal to the difference in the share price between the two dates.

In other words, there seem to be an awful lot of people around Steve Jobs who have allegedly had problems linked to the backdating of stock options. Jobs is the prodigal son credited with saving Apple, which he co-founded in 1976 with Steve Wozniak, by turning a then-struggling Silicon Valley icon into a consumer-electronics powerhouse after his triumphant return in 1996.

The turnaround was masterful; in fact, it's now the subject of business-school case studies.

All stemming from the practice known as “options backdating.” Options backdating occurs when a company issues stock options on one date, but reports in its financials an earlier issue date to create a “strike” or exercise price equal to the earlier date’s lower price.

Another consequence is that the company underrepresents the real nature of an executive’s compensation, perpetuating the myth that options are performance-based incentive compensation.

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