Brocade communications options backdating

On the surface - at least compared to some of the other shenanigans executives have been accused of in the past - the options backdating scandal seems relatively innocuous.

But ultimately, it can prove to be quite costly to shareholders.

Do you ever wish that you could turn back the hands of time?

Some executives have, well, at least when it comes to their stock options.

(To learn more, read .) In short, it is this failure to disclose - rather than the backdating process itself - that is the crux of the options backdating scandal. To be clear, the majority of public companies handle their employee stock options programs in the traditional manner.

That is, they grant their executives stock options with an exercise price (or price at which the employee can purchase the common stock at a later date) equivalent to the market price at the time of the option grant.

Another potential ticking time bomb, is that many of the companies that are caught bending the rules will probably be required to restate their historical financials to reflect the costs associated with previous options grants. In others, the costs may be in the tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars.

In a worst-case scenario, bad press and restatements may be the least of a company's worries.

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In the worst cases of options backdating abuse, the stock exchange on which the offending company's stock trades and/or regulatory bodies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or National Association of Securities Dealers can levy substantial fines against the company for perpetrating fraud.In order to lock in a profit on day one of an options grant, some executives simply backdate (set the date to an earlier time than the actual grant date) the exercise price of the options to a date when the stock was trading at a lower level. In this article, we'll explore what options backdating is and what it means for companies and their investors. Most businesses or executives avoid options backdating; executives who receive stock options as part of their compensation, are given an exercise price that is equivalent to the closing stock price on the date the options grant is issued.This means they must wait for the stock to appreciate before making any money.A Real-Life Example A perfect example of what can happen to companies that don't play by the rules can be found in a review of Brocade Communications.The well-known data storage company allegedly manipulated its stock options grants to ensure profits for its senior executives and then failed to inform investors, or to account for the options expense(s) properly.

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