Employment agreements between publicly-traded issuers and their executive officers often contain severance pay provisions that are heavily negotiated at the time of entering into the agreements.  The purpose of this post is to consider whether the amount of contractually-provided severance pay could, over the employment term, be reduced proportionate to the increase in the executive’s wealth accumulation over the same time period (i.e., an inversely proportional relationship between the amount of severance pay and the amount of wealth accumulation by the executive over the employment term). Continue Reading Should Contractually-Provided Severance Pay Decrease as Wealth Accumulation Increases?

As we head into a new proxy season, we would like to invite you to attend our annual FREE webinar entitled “Upcoming Proxy Season: Compensatory Thoughts from ISS,” which will be held on Thursday, January 17, 2019 from 10:00 am to 11:00 am Central.  As always, continuation education credits are available.

For your convenience, our remaining 2019 monthly webinar program is as follows: Continue Reading Upcoming Proxy Season: Compensatory Thoughts from ISS

The recent settlement by James Dolan, CEO of Madison Square Garden Co. (MSG) serves as a reminder that the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended (“HSR Act”) can apply to compensatory equity awards.  To avoid violations, a publicly-traded issuer should monitor (at least annually) equity grants and outstanding equity awards for ongoing HSR Act compliance.  To learn more, please see our Client Alert entitled “Not Just a Merger Issue – Compensatory Equity Awards Can Trigger HSR Filing Requirements.”

Continue Reading Reminder that Compensatory Equity Awards can Trigger HSR Requirements

If you interested in learning (or refreshing your skills on) how to negotiate executive employment contracts, then please tune in to our FREE 1-hour webinar on December 13, 2018, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Central.  This webinar is entitled “How to Negotiate Executive Employment Agreements” and you can sign up here. Continue Reading How to Negotiate Executive Employment Contracts

Did you exercise (or are planning to exercise) an incentive stock option (“ISO”) during calendar year 2018?  Do you intend to sell the underlying stock within the 12-month period from the date you exercised the ISO?  If you answered yes to both of the foregoing questions, then as part of your tax planning, consider whether the underlying stock should be sold during calendar year 2018 in order to minimize your alternative minimum tax (“AMT”) exposure. Continue Reading ISOs: No Item of Adjustment for AMT Purposes if Exercise and Sell within Same Calendar Year

Keeping with this evening’s Halloween spirit, members of Board of Directors and Compensation Committees should be aware of an allegation that is currently floating within the ominous fog – that some executives of publicly-traded issuers are trick-or-treating with “ghost revenue.”  Kidding aside, the allegation (or potential allegation) is that some executive officers are using ghost revenue (i.e., deferred revenue) in order to satisfy otherwise unattainable non-GAAP performance metrics.  A grossly-oversimplified explanation of this issue is addressed in the below portions of this post. Continue Reading Compensation Governance: Is Ghost Revenue Real?

It is difficult for publicly-traded issuers to solve the problems associated with outstanding stock options that are “underwater” (i.e., underwater because the exercise price of the stock option is greater than the fair market value of the underlying shares).  None of the typical solutions are attractive to publicly-traded issuers.  As a result, the underwater stock options continue to exist for 10 years from the date they were granted, and continue to decrease the life expectancy of the equity plan’s share reserve.  But what if a compensatory design existed that, if implemented on the front end, could negate the possible future existence of outstanding stock options that are substantially underwater?  Would such a design be attractive to an issuer so long as the design did not destroy the retention value otherwise inherent in the stock option?  Could a stock-price forfeiture provision be a solution to the foregoing problem?  Discussing a stock-price forfeiture provision as a possible solution to negate substantially underwater stock options is this “Tip of the Week.” Continue Reading Tip of the Week: Could a Stock-Price Forfeiture Provision Eliminate the Existence of Substantially Underwater Stock Options

Just a quick note that late last week ISS made available for public comment nine discreet voting policies for potential application in 2019.   Only one of the draft voting policies addresses compensation, and it addresses the Financial Performance Assessment Methodology under the Pay-for-Performance Model. Continue Reading ISS Issues Draft 2019 Voting Policy Updates

The purpose of this post is to quickly highlight that we have published our Executive Compensation Webinar Schedule for all of 2019.  As background, I have been providing this monthly webinar series since 2010 (it is a constant that I look forward to every month).  Our programs are intended to provide FREE educational training (i.e., we take a compensation topic, make it narrow, and then try to teach it A-Z), which is why we are able to publish the list a year in advance.  Free continuation education credits apply!  Sign up here.  Our topics, dates and times for the remainder of 2018 and all of calendar year 2019 are as follows:

Remainder of 2018

  • Taxation of Equity Awards: The 101 Training Course (11/8/2018)
  • How to Negotiate Executive Employment Contracts (12/13/2018)

2019 Schedule

  • Upcoming Proxy Season: Compensatory Thoughts from ISS (an Annual Program) (1/17/2019)
  • Equity Awards: Design Tips for Navigating Blackout Periods (2/14/2019)
  • Golden Parachutes & 280G: Design Pointers on How to be a Winner (3/14/2019)
  • Best Practices for Conducting the Compensation Committee Meeting (4/11/2019)
  • Anatomy of ISS (5/9/2019)
  • Tips to Increase the Longevity of the Equity Plan’s Share Reserve (6/13/2019)
  • Multi-Disciplinary Facets to Net Withholding: It Ain’t Boring (7/11/2019)
  • Everything Perquisites: The 101 Training Course (8/8/2019)
  • Preparing for Proxy Season: Start Now (an Annual Program) (9/12/2019)
  • Stock Ownership Policies & Clawback Policies: Design Pointers (10/10/2019)
  • Employee Stock Purchase Plans: The Introductory Course (11/14/2019)
  • How to Design Restrictive Covenants & Economic Forfeitures (12/12/2019)

All publicly-traded issuers have (or should have) a blackout policy that prohibits a designated individual from engaging in open-market transactions whenever such individual possesses material non-public information.  But what if the issuer is always (or near always) in a blackout period?  How does the issuer satisfy its income tax withholding obligation if the individual cannot finance the obligation through other means (e.g., family money, borrowings, etc.) and the individual is prohibited from financing the obligation by selling shares in the open market?  Answers to these questions are discussed in this Tip of the Week (presented in NO particular order, and not intended as an exhaustive list). Continue Reading Tip of the Week: 4 Ideas to Ease Tax Obligations When Equity Awards Vest During a Blackout Period