Companies toughen stance on options

Opposition to the plans, which are outlined in a discussion paper compiled by international standards-setters, was voiced at a London event staged to bring businesses and the UK Accounting Standards Board together to reopen the debate on the controversial proposals.

Seamus Keating of Logica, the technology provider and one of the most vocal opponents of the ASB’s plan, warned: ‘If we go on with this proposal the UK will be isolated and people will move, especially companies like mine, that are mobile.’

John Dyson, finance director of Pace Micro Technology, said: ‘Options aren’t salaries. Never could be a salary. If it’s a salary then we need to start the debate from a different angle.’

An increasing number of companies, particularly those in the new economy, have begun to offer employees share options as an alternative to salaries.

Mary Keegan, the new ASB chairman, took to the podium at the Baltic Exchange unshaken by the arguments she is by now quite used to rebutting.

She said: ‘We are seeing different ways of companies offering remuneration to employees, and to those who supply services. Business is changing the way it does business.’

She argued that if granting stock options is a good idea in economic terms, then it should show a cost. ‘If they’re a good idea at the moment without showing costs, then we have to ask why,’ she added.

She dismissed concerns that the UK would become isolated, saying the proposals would be moved forward on an international consensus basis only.

The event was organised by not-for-profit share investment-scheme Proshare. It plans to set up a steering group to work closely with the ASB on its plans.


ASB website

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