Plural Shareholders Question Value Of Options

Dell buyout creates uncertainty

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Plural shareholders are wondering what will become of their stock options now that Dell Computer's professional services arm has acquired the New York-based solution provider.

Several past and current Plural employees have contacted CRN about the issue since a report of the pending acquisition was published here on May 31.

One former Plural staffer said a stipulation existed that should Plural be acquired, shareholders' options could be exercised. The acquiring company would purchase the options for the cash value of the employee's vesting status, he said.

"Shareholders are [now being told there is no value to that stock," said this person, who requested anonymity.

He added that he had "written off a long time ago" any real chance of exercising his options. "I was only 20 percent vested. There were [other people who had been issued [options for many years. This is a slap in the face to them."

Another former Plural employee said the issue would affect a significant number of shareholders.

"There are many, many employees past and present that hold these options," he said in an e-mail. "I was told that these options were tantamount to equity."

Several current Plural employees said they were not at liberty to comment on the issue. They added that they had been instructed by Dell to defer all questions related to the acquisition to officials at Dell, based here.

A Dell spokesman would not provide additional details, though.

"We are not going to discuss compensation issues for former [Plural employees," the spokesman said. "New Dell employees are eligible for Dell stock, which is standard fare with us."

No terms of the deal have been disclosed. Both Neil Isford, the CEO of Plural, and the Dell spokesman confirmed recently that all existing Plural employees would be brought along in the acquisition.

At least one current Plural staffer said he is excited about the deal.

"You'd be very hard-pressed to find anyone here who thinks our getting bought by Dell is a bad thing," he said.

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