Months into a federal investigation of stock options backdating at Apple, prospects for a criminal case against powerhouse CEO Steve Jobs appear dim.
By December, the board and Jobs finalized the terms for the 7.5 million options – equivalent to a split-adjusted 15 million options today – and let Jobs keep the older underwater options. Apple’s stock had risen by more than a share since the grant was first approved in August.
But thanks to the stock market crash, those options were well under water by mid-2001, with a strike price more than double Apple’s then-market price.
Jobs wanted to replace them, and the board wanted to appease Jobs. 29, 2001, the board signed off on giving Jobs a new grant of 7.5 million shares.
But Jobs has been on the hot seat since last year, when Apple acknowledged that it backdated thousands of grants to employees, sometimes at Jobs’ direction. attorney’s office in San Francisco have continued to probe the matter, including interviewing Jobs, and signs point to the SEC soon finishing its investigation. Mark Pomerantz, Jobs’ attorney, also declined comment.
An internal investigation released in December found no evidence of wrongdoing by Jobs, but that did not remove the cloud of suspicion over the company’s powerful CEO. From the start, the focus has been Jobs’ receipt of 7.5 million options in 2001 that were backdated through minutes of a board of directors meeting that never occurred.“That would seem to distinguish the Apple situation.” So what actually happened with the 2001 grant?