Human Capital & Careers

Backdating Scandal Costs Broadcom Ex-CFO $33 Million

The semiconductor maker cancels Ruehle's stock options within a day of announcing at least three employees deliberately misdated option grants.
Stephen TaubDecember 22, 2006

The options-backdating scandal is costing former Broadcom chief financial officer William Ruehle nearly $33 million.

That is the amount of money Ruehle, who resigned in September, stands to lose after the semiconductor maker canceled his options to purchase more than 1.8 million shares of Class A common stock with six different grant dates going back as far as November 3, 1998. Broadcom announced in a Thursday regulatory filing that it had made this agreement with its former CFO on December 17.

At the same time, however, Broadcom paid nearly $5.2 million to Ruehle in exchange for his outstanding vested options to purchase 300,000 shares of the company’s Class B common stock granted before its initial public offering. The sum is the difference between the option exercise price of $1.6667 and $33.59 — the closing price per share of Broadcom Class A common stock on December 15, 2006 — for each of the shares of Broadcom Class B common stock underlying the options (less required withholding taxes of nearly $4.4 million).

On December 18, Broadcom said it would cancel some $37 million worth of outstanding unexercised options held by three executives and employees who deliberately backdated stock-option grants over a period of four and a half years.

At the time, the company confirmed that its audit committee had found that — particularly with respect to several companywide option grants — allocations of grants to some employees occurred after the grant dates for the total shares awarded had been established. Broadcom also said the Securities and Exchange Commission has upped its previously announced informal probe to a formal investigation.

Broadcom’s audit committee has been investigating the possibility of backdating since May. Three months ago, the company announced that Ruehle was accelerating his retirement “as a result of Broadcom’s previously announced equity award review.” At the time, however, the company gave few additional details about the audit committee’s investigation.