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Apple to unbackdate (some) stock options

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With a huge tax mess looming for recipients of Apple's backdated stock options, the Cupertino firm has told the SEC it is offering relief for some those affected.

Option holders have until April 16 to take up an offer which will modify the exercise price to the share price on the day the grants were actually finalised. Backdated options remove risk: their price is set at a date in the past when the stockwas lower than on the day they were really offered. Backdating is not illegal - so long as the company accounts for them properly and recipients inform the IRS.

In today's SEC filing, Apple said employees who take up the offer will get a cash payment next year to make up the shortfall that shifting the date would cause.

Apple said the value of the options covered by the IRS-pacifying offer was $67,142. With this trifling figure in mind, it's unsurprising to learn that board members and top executives are not included in the scheme.

Apple is one of more than 130 US companies engulfed in the options backdating scandal. An internal investigation last year led by Al Gore absolved the firm and its boss Steve Jobs of wrongdoing, but in December it merged that Apple has Steve Jobs was given share options on the basis of falsified documents which claimed to show the board of directors had approved the stock grant.

In January, prosecutors from the US Attorney's office and the Securities and Exchange Commission, interviewed Jobs. Government investigators have yet to show their hand against the company. ®

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