Accounting & Tax

Options Woes for Two Tech Companies

Incorrectly priced grants trouble Black Box, Bell Microproducts.
Stephen TaubMay 22, 2007

Black Box Corp. — which earlier this year disclosed that it would restate 15 years of earnings because of incorrectly priced stock options — announced that Fred C. Young has resigned as chief executive officer and a member of the board.

While seeking Young’s successor, Black Box will be managed under the direction of the office of the chairman. Interim CEO Terry Blakemore, CFO Michael McAndrew, senior vice president Francis Wertheimber, and chairman Thomas Greig will also meet with the full board on a regular basis for direction and oversight, the company added.

Black Box, which provides data and voice-networking products, did not offer a reason for Young’s departure.

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In February, the company announced that it would record added noncash charges for stock-based compensation expense dating back to 1992. In March, Black Box estimated those charges at $63 million, pre-tax.

Meanwhile, Bell Microproducts disclosed that according to a special committee, available evidence does not adequately support the company’s use of some stock-option grant dates for financial accounting purposes from 1996 through 2006.

The committee didn’t conclude that there was intentional misconduct or fraud regarding those grants, but it did determine that different measurement dates should be used to compute the appropriate compensation expense.

The computer-products distributor has not yet determined the noncash charges for compensation expense or the related cash and noncash tax adjustments that will be recorded.

Bell, which is late filing several previous financial statements, added that it has received waivers, until September 30, under its credit agreements with Wachovia Capital Finance, Wachovia Bank, National Association, and the Teachers’ Retirement Systems of Alabama regarding the delivery of certain quarterly information.

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