On Rescissions in Executive Stock Options
32 Pages Posted: 4 Nov 2008
Date Written: April 2002
We study executive stock options that permit the option holder to rescind an exercise decision, returning the shares acquired to the company and obtaining a refund of the exercise price. Rescissions occurred at a number of U.S. companies in 2000 after the large decline in internet stocks, and have been widely condemned as a weakening of incentives. To the contrary, we find that in many situations rescindable options dominate ordinary options by delivering greater value and stronger incentives to the employee at a lower cost to the firm. The attractiveness of rescindable options arises as a consequence of the income tax treatment of most executive stock options in the U.S.
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