Hats off to MSFT

Discussion in 'Politics' started by AAAintheBeltway, Jul 9, 2003.

  1. Microsoft announced it would no longer give workers incentive stockoptions but would award them actual stock instead and record the cost as a comp expense. It will apparentlyu also expense existing options when exercised, rather than bury the cost in the balance sheet.

    I give them a lot of credit for this step. It is potentially one of the most pro-shareholder events in recent memory. The bar has definitely been raised, and now companies that have taken confrontational attitudes towards reforming thier options cultures look very bad indeed. Foremost among these bad actors would be Intel. We don't expect much from small timne companies run by crooks or promoters, eg eBay, but Intel is among the two or three leading companies in America.

    I highly recommend Arne Alsin's commentaries in RealMoney on this whole issue. He has shown a lot of courage as a money manager to step up and call these out of control options cultures what they are, which is basically theft of shareholders' property under cover of misleading accounting.

    Options grants to exec's foster a whole host of undesirable practices, from accounting manipulation to excessive short-term focus to front-running bad news. For the life of me, I can't understand why a minimum wage factory worker is supposed to be adequately motivated by his salary, but the CEO, who is paid millions in salary and treated like a prince, just cannot summon the motivation to go to work in his chaffeur-driven limo every morning unless he has hundreds of millions in options. Then you add in the sleaze payoffs CEO's like Ebay's get from investment banks giving them huge IPO allocations, which is again nothing more than theft of shareholder assets in my opinion.

    If the boards of these companies were worth a pile of warm spit, they would put these corporate princes on the same basis as everyone else: they would have to pay cold cash for their stock. The boards should require the CEO to hold a substantial amount of his net worth in company stock and he should not be able to sell it except upon retirement. Of course, the board members should also be required to purchase company stock. Look at the next proxy you get and see how many board members have next to no money tied up in the stock. What kind of commitment do they have if they're not even willing to buy stock?

    Perhaps these proposals would cause a sudden and wholesale refusal of qualified exec's to serve in these positions. I propose we could solve that problem the same way they solve staffing issues--bring in qualified foreigner workers who are prepared to do the job for 1/5th what they were getting.