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Many privately held companies rely on an HM Revenue and Customs-agreed valuation to fix a market value option price, typically for Enterprise Management Incentive ("EMI") option.
These HMRC agreed valuations usually remain valid for 30 days only.
A stock option granted, for example, on the day you join the company allows you the right to buy that share at that day's price, but not until a fixed period – say a year – has elapsed.
If the price has risen in that time you can buy the share at the option price, sell it and pocket the profit.
US technology employees may live on their salaries, but whether they get truly rich or not depends on their share of the company.
While lucky early employees might get actual shares, most workers will depend on stock options to cash in on the tech boom.
But if someone asks you to write down a date from a month ago on a legal document, rather than today’s date, doesn’t it give you pause?One explanation was that options were being backdated to before major rises.That idea broke from academia into the business mainstream in 2006, and backdating scandals swept like wildfire in 2006, involving companies as famous as Apple, Dell and Broadcom.Backdating option grants to, for example, just before an announcement that had a positive share price effect would be equivalent to granting the option in a prohibited period.
Directors are rightly highly sensitive about share dealing because they can be censured by the stock exchange; prosecuted for abusing the market by the Financial Services Authority; or even summarily dismissed by the company itself.If the price has fallen, you simply don't buy the share.