My wife’s options are worthless. Is this shady?

September 19, 2011

Subject:   Help Needed
Date:   Thu, 16 Dec 2010
From:   Jun

Hi Michael,

My wife worked in a private IT company for more than six years. She was granted some stock options, most of which are vested by now. The employer company was sold to another private company.

After the dust settled, she and her co-workers learned their stock options are now worth almost nothing. She was given a letter to either exercise the options before the end of this month for 20¢ per share (to be repurchased by the employer company) or simply let them expire.

Does this sound shady? Can the stock options agreement let her previous employer do this?

Your help is greatly appreciated,


Date: January 14, 2011

Hello Jun,

You have asked a legal question that I’m not qualified to ask. You should consider consulting with an attorney, but it sounds like the amount you are dealing with won’t justify the expense.

There is no guarantee when you receive an employee stock option that it will become valuable. Most expire “underwater” or worthless.

Depending on the terms of the acquisition, I don’t think acquiring corporations are obligated to honor options granted by the companies they acquire, but most do.

Unless you have solid evidence of wrongdoing, 20¢ per share is better than nothing.

Good luck!

Mike Gray

For more information about incentive stock options, request our free report, Incentive Stock Options – Executive Tax and Financial Planning Strategies.

Comments are closed.