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Intel grants staff cut-price, cash-'em'-in-quick stock options

But price higher than Nasdaq-traded shares

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Intel has granted 80,000 workers the right to buy additional stock at the knock-down price of $25.69 a pop. The only snag: they might be better off buying on the open market - last night, the stock fell to $22.63 on Nasdaq.

At issue is Intel's well-established policy of offering staff stock options. Usually stock can only be exercised after three years - part of the company's 'golden handcuffs' programme to retain staff - but the new grant can be exercised half in March 2002 and the rest a year later.

Staffers already in possession of Intel stock have seen their paper worth fall significantly over the last six months, as hi-tech stocks have taken a beating thanks to Wall Streets downer on the sector and the downturn in the US economy. Share options are intended to provide an incentive to employees by providing them with a stake in the success of their company at a very preferential rate.

As yesterday's 9.5 per cent fall in INTC stock shows, it doesn't always work out as planned. The shorter interval between the offer and when employees can exercise their shares is Intel's way of allowing staff to get their money more quickly, which effectively increases their value. Assuming of course, its stock price has risen by March 2002.

"We are making this grant in appreciation of your continued hard work, diligence and commitment to our success," Intel CEO Craig Barrett said in an email to employees sent out last night, the San Jose Mercury reported. ®

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