Saturday, February 10, 2007, 11:00 am
Steve Jobs implicated in Pixar stock option dust-upThe smoldering controversy over the Apple chief's involvement in stock options reignited once again on Friday after curious timing in a Pixar stock option was discovered by the Wall Street Journal.
Quoting an anonymous source, the financial paper placed Apple chief executive Steve Jobs in even deeper hot water than before by suggesting that he had signed a job contract for Pixar's chief creative officer John Lasseter which gave the premier film director a questionable stock option bonus.
The ten-year contract, finalized in March 2001, saw Lasseter granted one million shares whose initial value was dishonestly backdated to a date three months before the deal had been completed -- coincidentally, the same day Pixar shares had been at their nadir in December of 2000. The terms effectively guaranteed that Lasseter would turn an immediate $6.4 million profit the day his new employment took effect, even before he received his first paycheck.
Then the CEO of Pixar, Jobs was known to have helped work out the details of the contract and had to put his signature to the deal for it to take effect, the Journal's informant said. However, doubt exists as to how much conscious involvement the company head truly had in the agreement. While his name on the paper implies tacit endorsement of the dubious grant, Jobs himself may not have actually chosen the date.
Still, an intense level of legal scrutiny is bound to follow the often controversial chief. Both the federal government and Pixar's parent company Disney (on whose board Jobs sits) are said to be actively investigating the studio's handling of stock options. And as always seems to be the case these days, Jobs is under the close watch of the government for irregularities in stocks at his very first company, Apple.
It comes as little surprise that none of the involved parties were prepared to comment to the Journal on the day's news. Disney forwarded requests to speak to Jobs to Apple, which in turn said he was unavailable; a similar response followed in attempts to contact Lasseter. Disney itself chose not to comment on the matter.
Shareholders were suitably unimpressed and thrashed Apple's stock value, which tumbled $2.91 to close at $83.27 by the end of trading on Friday evening.
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