SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
17 CFR Part 211
[Release No. SAB 110]
Staff Accounting Bulletin No. 110
AGENCY: Securities and Exchange Commission.
ACTION: Publication of Staff Accounting Bulletin.
SUMMARY: This staff accounting bulletin ("SAB") expresses the views of the staff regarding the use of a "simplified" method, as discussed in SAB No. 107 ("SAB 107"), in developing an estimate of expected term of "plain vanilla" share options in accordance with Statement of Financial Accounting Standards No. 123 (revised 2004), Share-Based Payment. In particular, the staff indicated in SAB 107 that it will accept a company's election to use the simplified method, regardless of whether the company has sufficient information to make more refined estimates of expected term. At the time SAB 107 was issued, the staff believed that more detailed external information about employee exercise behavior (e.g., employee exercise patterns by industry and/or other categories of companies) would, over time, become readily available to companies. Therefore, the staff stated in SAB 107 that it would not expect a company to use the simplified method for share option grants after December 31, 2007. The staff understands that such detailed information about employee exercise behavior may not be widely available by December 31, 2007. Accordingly, the staff will continue to accept, under certain circumstances, the use of the simplified method beyond December 31, 2007.
DATES: December 21, 2007
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Sandie E. Kim or Mark J. Barrysmith, Office of the Chief Accountant (202) 551-5300, or Craig C. Olinger, Division of Corporation Finance (202) 551-3400, Securities and Exchange Commission, 100 F Street NE, Washington, DC 20549.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:The statements in staff accounting bulletins are not rules or interpretations of the Commission, nor are they published as bearing the Commission's official approval. They represent interpretations and practices followed by the Division of Corporation Finance and the Office of the Chief Accountant in administering the disclosure requirements of the Federal securities laws.
Nancy M. Morris
Date: December 21, 2007
Part 211 – [AMENDED]
Accordingly, Part 211 of Title 17 of the Code of Federal Regulations is amended by adding Staff Accounting Bulletin No. 110 to the table found in Subpart B.
STAFF ACCOUNTING BULLETIN NO. 110
Effective January 1, 2008, the staff hereby amends and replaces Question 6 of Section D.2 of Topic 14, Share-Based Payment, of the Staff Accounting Bulletin Series. Question 6 of Topic 14: D.2 (as amended) expresses the views of the staff regarding the use of a "simplified" method in developing an estimate of expected term of "plain vanilla" share options in accordance with Statement of Financial Accounting Standards No. 123 (revised 2004), Share-Based Payment.
Note: The text of SAB 110 will not appear in the Code of Federal Regulations.
TOPIC 14: SHARE-BASED PAYMENT
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D. Certain Assumptions Used In Valuation Methods
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2. Expected Term
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Facts: Company E grants equity share options to its employees that have the following basic characteristics:75
Company E utilizes the Black-Scholes-Merton closed-form model for valuing its employee share options.
Question 6: As share options with these "plain vanilla" characteristics have been granted in significant quantities by many companies in the past, is the staff aware of any "simple" methodologies that can be used to estimate expected term?
Interpretive Response: As noted above, the staff understands that an entity that is unable to rely on its historical exercise data may find that certain alternative information, such as exercise data relating to employees of other companies, is not easily obtainable. As such, some companies may encounter difficulties in making a refined estimate of expected term. Accordingly, if a company concludes that its historical share option exercise experience does not provide a reasonable basis upon which to estimate expected term, the staff will accept the following "simplified" method for "plain vanilla" options consistent with those in the fact set above: expected term = ((vesting term + original contractual term) / 2). Assuming a ten year original contractual term and graded vesting over four years (25% of the options in each grant vest annually) for the share options in the fact set described above, the resultant expected term would be 6.25 years.77 Academic research on the exercise of options issued to executives provides some general support for outcomes that would be produced by the application of this method.78
Examples of situations in which the staff believes that it may be appropriate to use this simplified method include the following:
The staff understands that a company may have sufficient historical exercise data for some of its share option grants but not for others. In such cases, the staff will accept the use of the simplified method for only some but not all share option grants. The staff also does not believe that it is necessary for a company to consider using a lattice model before it decides that it is eligible to use this simplified method. Further, the staff will not object to the use of this simplified method in periods prior to the time a company's equity shares are traded in a public market.
If a company uses this simplified method, the company should disclose in the notes to its financial statements the use of the method, the reason why the method was used, the types of share option grants for which the method was used if the method was not used for all share option grants, and the periods for which the method was used if the method was not used in all periods. Companies that have sufficient historical share option exercise experience upon which to estimate expected term may not apply this simplified method. In addition, this simplified method is not intended to be applied as a benchmark in evaluating the appropriateness of more refined estimates of expected term.
Also, as noted above in Question 5, the staff believes that more detailed external information about exercise behavior will, over time, become readily available to companies. As such, the staff does not expect that such a simplified method would be used for share option grants when more relevant detailed information becomes widely available.
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