McAfee Replaces Top Two Execs
By: David Utter
The antivirus software maker fired president Kevin Weiss while CEO George Samenuk stepped down from the post he had held since January 2001.
The likelihood of pre-tax charges of $100 million to $150 million stemming from stock option grants will force McAfee (MFE) to restate ten years of financial statements. These findings by a special committee investigating misdeeds with past stock grants resulted in the immediate firing of Weiss and the abrupt retirement of Samenuk.
"I regret that some of the stock option problems identified by the Special Committee occurred on my watch," Samenuk said when announcing he would step down as CEO and Chairman. McAfee announced Dale Fuller would take on the dual interim roles of president and CEO while the company sought replacements for the positions.
"I look forward to taking on this leadership role and am committed to continuing the company's initiatives to provide customers worldwide with innovative security and risk-management," said Fuller.
Fuller had been president and CEO of Borland Software before joining McAfee. At one time, he was general manager and vice president of Apple Computer's Powerbook division.
McAfee is just one of many technology companies operating in the US that has been caught up in probes by the Securities and Exchange Commission into the practice of backdating stock options. These grants, given to certain executives and other employees to sweeten their compensation packages, would have their issue dates adjusted to one that is more favorable to the recipient.
Depending on the size of the grant, a change of just a dollar could be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars when exercising the stock option. In the past year, many publicly-traded companies have changed the way they account for stock-based compensation expenses. The impact has been felt by firms whose earnings were much more impressive in the prior year before such accounting began to take place.
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