Human Capital & Careers

Autodesk Restates, Blames Option Grants

The company's audit committee cleared officials of wrongdoing, but the SEC opened an informal investigation.
Stephen TaubFebruary 28, 2007

Autodesk Inc. said it will restate its previously-issued financial statements by between $38 million and $45 million to correct errors related to accounting for stock-based compensation expense over the 18-year period ended 2006. About $23 million to $26 million will apply to the income statements for fiscal years 2003 through 2006, and the remainder will be recorded as a charge to retained earnings as of January 31, 2002.

The design software company blamed the restatement on several administrative errors in the processing of option grants. Company officials conceded, for example, that a broad-based employee grant that included a grant to its former CFO and former general counsel had an incorrect measurement date. The company also said the new hire grant to the then-incoming CEO had an incorrect measurement date. However, in a regulatory filing, the officials stressed that there was no evidence that officers or directors backdated stock option grants for their own benefit.

The Autodesk audit committee concluded that it was unlikely that those involved in decisions and actions that resulted in incorrect measurement dates understood the accounting impact of their actions, or that they intended to misstate the company’s financial statements. Furthermore, the company pointed out that there was no evidence of measurement date error involving stock option grant made to a director, said the filing.

The audit committee has made a number of recommendations regarding remedial action, which are currently being reviewed by the board of directors. The company also noted that the SEC is conducting an informal inquiry into the company’s stock option grant practices, and that the company has been cooperating with the inquiry.