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Altering the terms of executive stock options

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  • Brenner, Menachem
  • Sundaram, Rangarajan K.
  • Yermack, David

Abstract

This paper examines the practice of resetting of the terms of previously-issued executive stock options. We identify the properties of the typical reset option, characterize the firms that have reset options, and develop a model to value options that may be reset. In our sample of 396 executives whose options had terms reset in 1992-95 period, a large majority had exercise prices reset to the market price. This resulted in a reduction of the typical option's exercise price by about 40%. Slightly less than half of these options also had their maturities extended, generally receiving a new expiration of 10 years. We find that resetting has a strong negative relationship with firm performance even after correcting for industry performance. Resetting is also significantly more common among small firms than among large firms. However, few other industry- or firm-specific factors appear to matter. Finally, we find that the possibility of resetting does not have a large impact on the ex-ante value of an option award, but the ex-post gain can be substantial.
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Suggested Citation

  • Brenner, Menachem & Sundaram, Rangarajan K. & Yermack, David, 2000. "Altering the terms of executive stock options," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 103-128, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jfinec:v:57:y:2000:i:1:p:103-128
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    1. Robert C. Merton, 2005. "Theory of rational option pricing," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: Theory Of Valuation, chapter 8, pages 229-288 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    2. Yermack, David, 1997. " Good Timing: CEO Stock Option Awards and Company News Announcements," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(2), pages 449-476, June.
    3. Brenner, Menachem & Sundaram, Rangarajan K. & Yermack, David, 2000. "Altering the terms of executive stock options," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 103-128, July.
    4. Gilson, Stuart C & Vetsuypens, Michael R, 1993. " CEO Compensation in Financially Distressed Firms: An Empirical Analysis," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 48(2), pages 425-458, June.
    5. Yermack, David, 1995. "Do corporations award CEO stock options effectively?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(2-3), pages 237-269.
    6. Seyhun, H Nejat, 1992. "The Effectiveness of the Insider-Trading Sanctions," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(1), pages 149-182, April.
    7. Mark Rubinstein., 1994. "On the Accounting Valuation of Employee Stock Options," Research Program in Finance Working Papers RPF-241, University of California at Berkeley.
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