Juniper Networks will take a non-cash charge of $900 million for improperly dated employee stock-option grants.
The company announced the completion of a seven-month probe by its audit committee yesterday. The investigation found that in many cases Juniper chose grant dates for options after the fact, in an effort to give employees the benefit of a better stock price.
Concerns about the back-dating of stock options have haunted many hi-tech companies over the past year as improper accounting practices, mostly used during the dotcom boom, were uncovered. At Juniper, 99.9 percent of the charges relate to options granted between June 1999 and the end of 2003, according to the company.
The investigators also found Juniper management didn't exercise enough responsibility for the company's stock option process, and said it had serious concerns about former management. But in a statement Wednesday, the audit committee and board of directors backed chief exec Scott Kriens and the current management. Kriens received two option grants with date issues, but they were not exercised and were cancelled in 2001, the company said.
Juniper also said it intends to catch up on filing quarterly financial results for 2006 and restatements of previous results in the first quarter of 2007, fulfilling a deal with the Nasdaq to remain listed on the market.