Human Capital & Careers

No Hard Feelings: SafeNet CFO, CEO Quit

The information security company sends out a press release filled with love taps for two executives who are resigning in the wake of bad news about...
Stephen TaubOctober 18, 2006

While the executive exodus over the stock option scandal is proceeding apace, sometimes the divorces seem amicable. On Wednesday, SafeNet, Inc. announced that its acting CFO and its chairman and chief executive officer were stepping down as a result of an ongoing review of the company’s stock-options-granting practices.

SafeNet, a provider of information security products, reported that Anthony Caputo resigned as chairman and CEO, and Carole Argo quit her posts as president, chief operating officer, and acting CFO.

At the same time, the company named Walter Straub, an independent director, as chairman and interim CEO; Chris Fedde, senior vice president and general manager of the company’s Enterprise Security Division as president and chief operating officer; and John Frederick, vice president and worldwide controller as interim CFO and chief accounting officer.

Safenet’s press release, however, seemed unusually flattering to executives leaving in the wake of a backdating. Although the company stated that the management changes “are the result of an ongoing review of the Company’s stock options granting practices by a Special Committee of the Board,” Straub had nice things to say about Caputo and Argo. “On behalf of the Board, I wish to thank Tony and Carole for their many contributions to SafeNet,” he said.

“Tony has played an integral role in the growth and success of SafeNet over the past 20 years, spearheading the Company’s sales and marketing initiatives in the financial and federal government market segments and leading SafeNet through its initial public offering in 1992,” the incoming chairman said. “Since joining SafeNet in 1999, Carole has played an important role in leading the company’s day-to-day global operations and executing SafeNet’s growth strategy.”

At the same time, Caputo himself was allowed a comment in the release. “After an association with SafeNet that stretches back 20 years, I have submitted my resignation because I believe it is in the best interests of the Company,” the outgoing chief executive said. “The issues related to stock options occurred under my leadership and I do not want my continued presence to be a distraction to the important work we perform for our customers every day. I am confident that SafeNet will continue to succeed and grow under the strong and deep management team that we have in place.”

The information-security company previously announced that certain option grants made to directors, officers, and employees between 2000 and 2005 were likely accounted for using measurement dates that were incorrect according to the accounting rules in effect at the time.

Safenet also had reported that material non-cash, stock-based compensation expenses linked to the option grants would have to be recorded. As a result, the company expects to restate its financials from 2000 through March 31, 2006.

Frederick, the incoming interim CFO, has more than 20 years experience as a senior financial executive in a variety of industries. Before joining SafeNet in June 2006, he served as vice president and controller for Arby’s Restaurant Group.

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