Nokia's Board raises number of stock options to be issued this year

Nokia's Board raises number of stock options to be issued this year
While Nokia's stock has rebounded from a low of $1.63 to hit current levels of $2.11, overall the stock has been a disaster. As a result, previously issued and un-exercised stock options are underwater requiring Nokia's Board to make some adjustments. A stock option is a financial instrument that gives the holder the right to buy or sell a stock at a set price for a certain period of time. In the case of company-issued stock options, they are usually given to key employees that a company wants to retain, and offer the ability to buy shares at a discount for a period of time. When the underlying stock is falling, the potential reward drops until in some cases, the price of the stock is well under the price at which the option can be exercised making the options worthless. While the options can be changed to lower the exercise price, that has been a controversial move over the years. Another tactic is to increase the number of options issued, increasing the potential for a windfall if the stock rebounds.

Nokia's Board has just increased the number of stock options that will be issued under the Nokia Equity Program 2012 from 8.5 million to 12 million. Nokia's Board can raise the number of options outstanding to a maximum of 35 million based on previously approved documents. Where Nokia is making a prudent decision is with its statement that none of the additional options will be awarded to CEO Stephen Elop or other members of Nokia's Leadership Team. Instead, these potentially valuable options will be awarded to key senior level employees who have been given the responsibility of implementing Nokia's strategy to turn the company around. In effect, this aligns the success of these employees with the success of the company which would then be reflected in the company's stock, making the options more valuable.

Under the Stock Options Plan 2011, options can be issued through 2013 with 50% of the options vesting three years after they are granted with the remaining 50% vesting the following year.

source: Nokia

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