Thursday, July 27, 2017

Restricted Stock And Other Equity Options For Your Executive Compensation Package

Executive Equity Compensation - restricted stock

On July 10, 2017, CEOWorld magazine published an article I wrote on  “Restricted Stock And Other Equity Options For Your Executive Compensation Package This article was designed for CEOs, C-suite executives and other senior executives who are negotiating stock, options, RSUs or other equity as part of their compensation package. 

The article first discusses the key ways to assure value in your executive equity compensation package
  • What will be the strike price?  Is there opportunity for considerable appreciation within the given time horizon.
  • Did you receive enough equity to make this worth it?  In the article, I give an example where the executive with a base salary of $400,000, has an equity award of $2 million vesting over 4 years, and then state that because the executive started with equity whose aggregate strike price was $2 million, 3x appreciation translated to an appreciation of $4 million.  Had the aggregate strike price been $200,000, then even with 3x growth, the potential gain for 4 years would only have been $400,000.
  • Type of equity and its tax treatment is important.  There are many choices in how to structure equity.  The executive in a high potential growth or turnaround situation should seek the structure for his or her equity that offers the best prospect for capital gains on the appreciation.

The article then goes on to discuss the merits of Stock Options both, non-qualified and incentive stock options, Restricted Stock and Restricted Stock Units (RSUs).
The article indicates that in the high growth and turnaround situations, the much better choice is to get all or a significant part of your equity structured as Restricted Stock, which offers these. significant advantages:
  • Avoiding the strike price. CEO and executive restrictive stock grants often grant the stock at zero cost so there is no payment of the strike price.
  • Retention of value on termination. ISOs must expire within 90 days of employment termination, and though the tax code does not require that for Non-quals, those options are typically written the same way. With restricted stock, once you vest, you own and retain it. The company cannot cancel your stock on termination unless there is a buy-back provision.
  • Capital Gains Tax Treatment. Typically, an IRC Section 83(b) election is made within 30 days of the grant of restricted stock.  This is accompanied by payment of the value of the stock issued (For true startups, the stock may be worth little at founding and a nominal payment is made which is fair market value at the time). After that, if the stock is held more than a year, all appreciation will be taxed at capital gains rates and that tax will fall only on sale of the shares.

My article also discusses how  RSUs structure is quite desirable in companies where high growth is not expected and the executive wants to be assured of equity that will have value.  For more information on RSUs, see my February 2017  CEOWorld article focused entirely on RSUs – LINK:

My article on “Restricted Stock And Other Equity Options For Your Executive Compensation Package”   was published July 10, 2017 by CEOWorld magazine.
To see my full article, go to

With more than 12.4+ million page views, CEOWORLD magazine is the world’s leading business magazine written strictly for CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, senior management executives, business leaders, and high net worth individuals worldwide.

It is my hope that this article will be helpful to senior executives who are negotiating equity terms as part of their compensation package going into a new position or in connection with a raise, promotion or change of control.  If you or any colleague of yours has a need in this area, please do reach out to me, your executive employment lawyer, at