Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Another Employee Perk Being Cut

I've discussed before how stock option plans were being eliminated for rank-and-file workers by a Congress that passed shoddy legislation in a rush to "prevent another Enron."

It turns out that stock options are not the only perk being cut. Employee Stock Purchase Plans (ESPPs) are also being cut thanks to a new FASB rule that was enacted after the Enron debacle. From the WSJ (paid link):

Traditionally, Employee Stock Purchase Plans have given workers a chance to buy company stock at a 15% discount...This is changing, however, as regulators move to tighten accounting rules in the wake of Enron, WorldCom and other corporate scandals. That means that discounts on most stock-purchase plans, like stock-option grants, must now be treated as an expense.

(To date) About 15% of companies have eliminated the look-back feature, 7% have eliminated the discount, and 5% have eliminated the whole plan..."
Thanks, Congress. These rules will do nothing to prevent what happened at Enron or WorldCom, but they will certainly take money out of the pockets of the non-executive ranks. And the "C-Level" executives will still get tons of stock grants, options and other perks in the millions of dollars, so these rules will also do nothing in terms of lowering executive compensation.

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