Beyond Sarbanes-Oxley, the SEC approved changes to the listing standards of the NYSE and the Nasdaq in 2003 that require shareholder approval for compensation plans.
It also approved requirements that mandate that companies outline the specifics of their compensation plans to their shareholders.
Another potential ticking time bomb, is that many of the companies that are caught bending the rules will probably be required to restate their historical financials to reflect the costs associated with previous options grants. In others, the costs may be in the tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars.
In a worst-case scenario, bad press and restatements may be the least of a company's worries.
It also provides investors with timely access to (grant) pricing information.(For more insight, see ) Although it may appear shady, public companies can typically issue and price stock option grants as they see fit, but this will all depend on the terms and conditions of their stock option granting program.However, when granting options, the details of the grant must be disclosed, meaning that a company must clearly inform the investment community of the date that the option was granted and the exercise price. In addition, the company must also properly account for the expense of the options grant in their financials.In order to lock in a profit on day one of an options grant, some executives simply backdate (set the date to an earlier time than the actual grant date) the exercise price of the options to a date when the stock was trading at a lower level. In this article, we'll explore what options backdating is and what it means for companies and their investors. Most businesses or executives avoid options backdating; executives who receive stock options as part of their compensation, are given an exercise price that is equivalent to the closing stock price on the date the options grant is issued.This means they must wait for the stock to appreciate before making any money.