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The Design and Success of Stock Options Plans for New Economy Firms in Germany

Author

Listed:
  • Wolfgang Bessler

    (Center for Finance and Banking, Justus Liebig U Giessen)

  • Christoph Becker

    (KfW Bankengruppe, Frankfur)

  • Daniil Wagner

    (Credit Suisse, Frankfurt)

Abstract

In recent years, the use of stock options as an incentive compensation scheme has evolved to be one of the most debated topics in the finance literature as well as in the corporate world. The investigations into the option granting practices at a number of U.S. firms, which were accused of fraudulent backdating options, as well as the compensation schemes of top bankers and other top executives during the current financial crisis, heated up this debate even more. Our study contributes to the empirical research on stock option plans (SOPs) by focusing on start-up or 'new economy' firms in Germany. For the 329 firms that went public at the 'Neuer Markt', a special stock market segment for young growth companies in Germany, we find a high popularity of stock options in that more than 90% of all IPOs implemented at least one stock option plan (SOP) at the time of the IPO or later on. These SOPs were broad-based and included rank and file employees as the options' recipients. Our empirical results reveal--at least with hindsight--that accepting stock options as part of an overall salary package did not pay off financially for employees during that time period. Furthermore, the success and performance of the investigated SOPs were influenced by their statutory design and the succession of three different lock-up periods. These made a profitable option exercise for employees very difficult. Our findings question the rationale behind the design, introduction, and implementation of SOPs during the time of the 'Neuer Markt' in Germany at least from the perspective of non-executive employees.

Suggested Citation

  • Wolfgang Bessler & Christoph Becker & Daniil Wagner, 2009. "The Design and Success of Stock Options Plans for New Economy Firms in Germany," Journal of Entrepreneurial Finance, Pepperdine University, Graziadio School of Business and Management, vol. 12(4), pages 1-34, Spring.
  • Handle: RePEc:pep:journl:v:12:y:2009:i:4:p:1-34
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Lisa Meulbroek, 2001. "The Efficiency of Equity-Linked Compensation: Understanding the Full Cost of Awarding Executive Stock Options," Financial Management, Financial Management Association, vol. 30(2), Summer.
    2. Ittner, Christopher D. & Lambert, Richard A. & Larcker, David F., 2003. "The structure and performance consequences of equity grants to employees of new economy firms," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1-3), pages 89-127, January.
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    4. Nohel, Tom & Todd, Steven, 2005. "Compensation for managers with career concerns: the role of stock options in optimal contracts," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 11(1-2), pages 229-251, March.
    5. Josh Lerner & Julie Wulf, 2007. "Innovation and Incentives: Evidence from Corporate R&D," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(4), pages 634-644, November.
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    7. John D. Lyon & Brad M. Barber & Chih-Ling Tsai, 1999. "Improved Methods for Tests of Long-Run Abnormal Stock Returns," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 54(1), pages 165-201, February.
    8. Heron, Randall A. & Lie, Erik, 2007. "Does backdating explain the stock price pattern around executive stock option grants?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 271-295, February.
    9. Lowry, Michelle & Murphy, Kevin J., 2007. "Executive stock options and IPO underpricing," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(1), pages 39-65, July.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Compensation ; Executives ; Firm ; Firms ; Incentives ; Stock Options;

    JEL classification:

    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
    • M12 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - Personnel Management; Executives; Executive Compensation
    • M52 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Compensation and Compensation Methods and Their Effects
    • M13 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - New Firms; Startups

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