Human Capital & Careers

Apollo CFO Resigns, Company Restates

Departure coincides with the release of news about stock-option granting practices. THQ also announces options problems.
Stephen TaubNovember 3, 2006

Apollo Group says chief financial officer and treasurer Kenda B. Gonzales resigned earlier this week for personal reasons, and that chief accounting officer Dan Bachus is currently on administrative leave. The company did not provide additional information about the two finance executives.

In the same press release, the education company best known for operating The University of Phoenix announced that its ongoing internal investigation into the issuance of certain stock-option grants has “discovered various deficiencies” in its process of granting and documenting stock options. As a result, it will need to restate its historical financial statements to record additional charges for compensation expenses relating to past stock-option grants. According to a press statement, the company has not determined the amount of the charges, the resulting tax and accounting impact, or which periods may require the revisions.

However, in a regulatory filing, Apollo said it expects it will restate certain of its previously filed financial statements, including filings for the years 2001 to 2005 and the first two quarters of 2006. “We are committed to resolving these issues as quickly as possible, and we are in the process of putting the appropriate processes in place to ensure this does not happen again,” said Brian Mueller, who was appointed president of Apollo Group in January, in a statement.

Commenting on the departures of the two finance executives, Mueller added: “We have a talented and tenured executive team in place and I feel confident in our abilities to move the organization forward.”

In the Securities and Exchange Commission filing, the company elaborated on the deficiencies. For example, it noted that in the accounting of certain stock-option grants, the company did not correctly apply the requirements of Accounting Principles Board (APB) Opinion No. 25, Accounting for Stock Issued to Employees. In certain instances, the company said it used a measurement date for option awards that corresponded with the reported grant date, even though the approvals for those grants as set forth in the operative plans were not obtained until after the reported grant date. Also, the final list of grantees and award amounts was incomplete at the time of the reported grant date.

Furthermore, Apollo said it misapplied an Internal Revenue code related to the “contemporaneous tax treatment” of certain stock-option grants, warning that it may face “significant tax liability for prior years.” The company also noted that it prepared and maintained inaccurate documentation related to the date that grant award lists.

In other options-related news, video game maker THQ Inc. says it will delay the filing of its second-quarter report after an internal investigation determined that the actual measurement dates for financial accounting purposes of certain stock-option grants issued in the past are likely to differ from the recorded grant dates of awards reflected in the company’s historical financial statements. As a result, the company, which previously announced that the SEC had launched an informal inquiry into its stock-option grant practices, says it will need to restate certain historical financial results to record additional noncash stock-based compensation expense and related cash and noncash tax adjustments related to past stock-option grants.

The company adds that it has not yet determined the amount of the charges, the resulting tax and accounting impact, whether the impact on its current financial statements will be material, or what historical periods need to be restated.