Google employee share option exchange window closes

Google's share option exchange programme aimed at retaining talent by repricing share options for employees to bring them in line with current values, closes today.

Google's share option exchange programme aimed at retaining talent by repricing share options for employees to bring them in line with current values, closes today.

About 17,000 employees are expected to benefit from the repricing exercise that analysts estimate will cost Google more than $400m in charges.

The exchange window was opened at the beginning of February after the programme was initially delayed in the last week of January for undisclosed reasons.

The company announced the plan along with fourth quarter financial results because many of the current share options would cost more to exercise than they are worth due to a decline in earnings.

Google's share price has fallen almost 60% in the past 15 months, leaving most Google employees with share options that cost more than shares are now worth.

Resetting the share options to Friday's share price of $308.57 will close the gap and give share option holders a better chance in future of holding shares that are worth more than they cost.

That will not be the case if the share price continues to fall, but share option holders will still be better off than if no exchange had taken place, commentators have said.

Chief executive Eric Schmidt said in February that Google had decided on the plan to reward employees for their hard work and creativity.

Although likely to be unpopular with other shareholders who have suffered losses, the move recognises that Google's employees are the company's most important assets, analysts have said.

This philosophy is reflected in the fact that Google tops the US technology pay league according to gigaom.com.

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