Human Capital & Careers

Three Companies Report Options Probes

A fourth could need to restate after its audit committee concluded that the actual measurement dates for some option grants differed from recorded ...
Stephen TaubJune 28, 2006

At least three more companies say they are being investigated by federal officials looking into stock option grants doled out to executives. Another says it might need to restate prior results to make adjustments to its accounting for previous stock option grants.

There are 54 companies currently being probed for their stock option practices, according to a count by Bloomberg.

Cyberonics Inc., which previously announced that the Securities and Exchange Commission was conducting an informal inquiry concerning option grants, says it received a subpoena on Monday from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York requesting documents relating to the grants.

The company, which says that it’s cooperating with the SEC staff and the U.S. Attorney’s office, will retain independent counsel to help with the review of its procedures, and practices regarding option grants. The review will cover compliance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, statutes, rules, and regulations.

Separately, VeriSign Inc. said it received a grand jury subpoena from the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California requesting documents concerning option grants and the company’s practices related to them. The company stated that it intends to cooperate fully with the request.

VeriSign, a provider of infrastructure services for Internet and telecom networks, also said it received an informal inquiry from the SEC asking for options related documents and that it intends to cooperate fully. The company previously said that it had launched its own internal review of historical stock option grants.

CNET Networks announced that it has received a grand-jury document subpoena from the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California requesting records pertaining to the granting of stock options and that it’s cooperating.

On May 22, CNET’s reported that its board had appointed a special committee of independent directors to conduct an internal probe concerning past option grants, their timing, and related accounting matters. Two days later, the company announced that the SEC had launched an informal inquiry involving grants.

Finally, Rambus Inc. said that it may need to restate past results after its board audit committee reached a preliminary conclusion that the actual measurement dates for certain stock option grants issued in previous years differ from the recorded grant dates for the awards. The audit committee has not yet completed its investigation.