Maîtrisons le jeu des stock-options

CAMBRIDGE – Les conseils d’administration des entreprises et l’Etat ont mis la question de la rémunération des grands patrons au cœur de leurs préoccupations. Un aspect de cette question mérite plus ample analyse: faut-il continuer à laisser les chefs d’entreprise décider du moment où ils touchent leurs bonus? Les conditions classiques de rémunération les autorisent à vendre leurs parts et à exercer les options qui leur ont été octroyées quand bon leur semble. Une telle liberté n’est ni utile, ni souhaitable.

La possibilité de programmer ce moment leur donne tout loisir d’utiliser les données confidentielles qu’ils détiennent sur leur sociétés, et de vendre avant que les cours ne baissent. Les lois réprimant les délits d’initié sont censées les dissuader d’exploiter cette information “concrète,” mais ils restent détenteurs d’une information plus “immatérielle,” qui leur donne l’avantage sur les places boursières. Il a été observé maintes fois que les profits record réalisés par les patrons en Bourse – c’est à dire des profits “anormalement” juteux – procèdent de la cession des titres de leur propre société.

Autre conséquence de cette liberté accordée aux patrons pour planifier ainsi la vente de leurs stock-options et de leurs parts, la tentation pour eux d’influer sur l’information diffusée par leur société et de jouer sur les cours pour en empêcher la chute avant d’effectuer leurs transactions. On constate, d’expérience, une corrélation entre le niveau des cessions atteint par les patrons et la manipulation des rémunérations – tant légale qu’illégale.

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