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Apple and stock option backdating

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Steve Dowling, a spokesman for Apple, declined to comment on Jobs's conversations with Anderson.

Dowling emphasized that the SEC did not "file any action against Apple or any of its current employees." Government authorities praised Apple for coming forward with the backdating problems last year and for sharing information with investigators.

You see, if you backdate stock options to a date when the price of the stock was lower, then the options are "in-the-money" when granted.

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

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Which, of course, you shouldn't assume since any sensible employee can see that if his each stock option is worth less, he should get more of them.After all, stock option backdating is all the rage these days.You'd think they'd be up to their eyeballs in rope.Options backdating is the practice of altering the date a stock option was granted, to a usually earlier (but sometimes later) date at which the underlying stock price was lower.This is a way of repricing options to make them valuable or more valuable when the option "strike price" (the fixed price at which the owner of the option can purchase stock) is fixed to the stock price at the date the option was granted.A former chief financial officer of Apple reached a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday over the backdating of stock options and said company founder Steve Jobs had reassured him that the questionable options had been approved by the company board. Anderson, who left Apple last year after a board investigation implicated him in improper backdating, agreed yesterday to pay .5 million to settle civil charges. Heinen, former general counsel for Apple, with violating anti-fraud laws and misleading auditors at KPMG by signing phony minutes for a board meeting that government lawyers say never occurred. He said he warned Jobs in late January 2001 that tinkering with the dates on which six top officials were awarded 4.8 million stock options could have accounting and legal disclosure implications. Ehrlich said Heinen's actions were authorized by the board, "consistent with the interests of the shareholders and consistent with the rules as she understood them." Anderson issued an unusual statement defending his reputation and tying Jobs to the scandal in the strongest terms to date.I count no fewer than 38 top executives at 19 high-tech companies that have bit the dust over this stuff.We're talking top executives at big-name companies like Apple, Altera, Broadcom, Brocade, Cirrus Logic, Comverse, KLA-Tencor, Maxim, Mc Afee, Rambus, Sanmina-SCI, Take Two, Trident, Verisign, and Vitesse. That's serious fallout considering that options backdating is legit as long as the company reports it and accounts for it accurately.The SEC’s opinions regarding backdating and fraud were primarily due to the various tax rules that apply when issuing “in the money” stock options vs.the much different – and more financially beneficial – tax rules that apply when issuing “at the money” or "out of the money" stock options.