Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Cisco puts a spin on options

Cisco puts a spin on options
Manufacturer of computer-networking equipment proposes new way to value employee stock options.
May 12, 2005: 8:27 AM EDT

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Cisco Systems is seeking regulatory approval for a financial instrument that could allow the company to assign a lower value to the stock options than under current valuation models, according to media reports Thursday.

A Cisco (Research) spokesman confirmed that the big San Jose, Calif.-based company had recently proposed to the Securities and Exchange Commission creating a "market instrument" that would parallel employee options. The spokesman said Cisco is waiting to hear from the SEC.

Buyers of the new instruments, called employee stock option reference securities, or Esors, would not be able to transfer them and would have options that would vest over five years. Both provisions are similar to those in employee stock options, according to reports.

Cisco would use the new securities to value employee options on its books.

The Financial Accounting Standards Board adopted a rule last year requiring publicly traded companies to record the value of employee options as expenses in their financial statements.

Cisco will have to begin implementing the new rule in its fiscal year that begins July 31.

A lower value for the options would reduce the impact expensing will have on Cisco's profits and could lead other companies to follow suit.

Options give employees the right to buy stock for as long as 10 years at a price set when the option is issued, and thus can become very valuable if the stock rises over that period.


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