Calpers Says It Withdraws Options Inquiry Sent to Nvidia Corp.
The California Public Employees' Retirement System said it withdrew a request for information from Nvidia Corp. (NVDA) on whether the world's No. 3 maker of computer-graphics chips backdated stock options.
The pension fund, the largest in the U.S. with more than $210 billion in assets, said it was informed by Nvidia officials that they are unaware of any regulatory or other investigations of stock-option backdating at the company.
The pension fund on June 9 sent letters to 25 companies in which it invests, asking them to investigate media reports of employee stock-option backdating and disclose all findings publicly. About 40 companies in three countries have disclosed federal or internal inquiries into options grants. Fifteen people have resigned or been fired, and more than 50 lawsuits are pending at more than 20 companies.
``They called us and said they hadn't received anything from the SEC as far as an investigation or any kind of regulatory investigation notice,'' said Calpers spokesman Brad Pacheco. ``They felt a little misidentified. Every other case we know for sure has an SEC filing against them but with Nvidia, there was some question so we just corrected it.''
Stock options allow holders to buy shares at set prices on future dates. They're usually granted to executives as part of annual compensation and set at the current market price, giving managers an incentive to make the stock advance over time.
While companies are allowed to award executive options at below-market prices, they must charge the difference in value against earnings and potentially lose the right to tax deductions on compensation exceeding $1 million. Backdating gives executives a similar benefit without the costs.
A call to Nvidia spokesman Derek Perez's Santa Clara, California office wasn't immediately returned.