Under previous regulations, corporations could wait 45 days or, in some cases, over a year to report options, thus providing ample time for backdating.Other similar practices are being reviewed by government officials as well.Options backdating occurs when companies grant options to their executives that correspond to a day where there was a significantly lower share price.It is suspected that these situations are not a coincidence and that the board or executives were granted options based on a past date in order to make these options more profitable. 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.Options backdating defeats the purpose of linking an executive's compensation to the company's performance, because the bearer of the options will already have experienced a gain.In the past, granted options were only required to be disclosed to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) within two months of the options being granted, which gives companies a window for backdating.
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.
At first glance, call options represent the perfect way to tie an executive's level of compensation to the company's performance because as the company's share price increases, so does the payoff the executive will receive.
However, this concept is not perfect and there are ways that executives can take advantage of the way that options are granted in order to earn money.
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.