Compensation Governance

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

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

Most publicly-traded issuers are interested in ideas that could help increase the life expectancy of the share reserve under its stockholder-approved equity incentive plan.  The purpose of this “Tip of the Week” is to discuss the use of “inducement grants” as one of the many ideas to consider.

Background

If you look at an equity incentive plan’s annual life cycle on a per-key employee basis, it is likely that the largest share grant occurred at the time the key employee was hired.  That conclusion makes sense because more shares are generally granted at the time of the key employee’s hire in order to induce him or her to become employed with the issuer (compared to the number of shares it takes on an annual basis thereafter to retain that same key employee).  With this point in mind, issuers could increase the life expectancy of its equity incentive plan’s share reserve if new hires received equity grants that were “outside” of the stockholder-approved equity incentive plan. Continue Reading Tip of the Week: Use Inducement Grants to Protect an Equity Plan’s Share Reserve

Publicly-traded issuers losing (or about to lose) Emerging Growth Company (“EGC”) status will have to include a CD&A within their proxy statement.  Since CD&A disclosure significantly drives compensation design, issuers losing EGC status will need to consider various business points that will likely change their compensatory programs.  Such business points include: (i) memorializing a compensation philosophy, (ii) establishing performance incentives that “disclose” well, (iii) discussing compensation governance mechanisms, and (iv) deciding whether to appease the thoughts from institutional shareholder advisory services such as ISS.  Sound easy enough?  Yes, but only if the Compensation Committee is adequately informed and has time to consider and implement any compensatory changes.

On October 11, 2018 (10:00 am Central), we are hosting a webinar entitled “Compensation Changes Due to Loss of EGC Status (Phase II of II).”   The purpose of this webinar is to discuss business points that an issuer losing EGC status will need to consider with respect to its compensatory programs.  Click here to register: “Compensation Changes Due to Loss of EGC Status (Phase II of II).”  And as always, our monthly webinar series is FREE. Continue Reading Compensation Changes Due to Loss of EGC Status

Determining the “date of grant” of an equity award is important if the issuer desires accurate accounting charges and compliance with applicable tax laws.  Though such determination is typically straight forward, there are three common situations where identifying the date of grant could become more complex.  Addressing these three factual scenarios is this “Tip of the Week.” Continue Reading Tip of the Week: Determining the Grant Date of Equity Awards

Privately-held companies anticipating an IPO have a unique “one-time” opportunity to design their compensatory programs in a way that creates flexibility after the company becomes publicly-traded.  Please join us on September 13, 2018, at 10:00 CT where we will discuss various design structures, including: (i) emerging growth company considerations relevant to compensation structures, (ii) thoughts from institutional shareholders, (iii) equity incentive plan designs that can help to preserve the share reserve of the equity plan long after the effectiveness of the S-1 registration statement, (iv) design issues with respect to executive contracts, and (v) other compensatory issues (e.g., co-registration rights, rollover of profits interests, etc.).  Click here to register: Planning for an IPO: Compensation Considerations (Phase I of II).  And as always, our monthly webinar series is FREE. Continue Reading Planning for an IPO: Compensation Considerations