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ImageIntel Corp, a bellwether of the technology industry announced a freeze on top salaries and an exchange of "underwater" stock options. Under the plan, the chip maker plans to exchange all but senior executives' "underwater" stock options for options that carry a lower exercise price, becoming the latest corporation to try to compensate employees amid a stock market rout.

Intel detailed the plan this week in a federal filing of its proxy statement. The move must be approved by Intel shareholders.

The company seeks to exchange options with an exercise price above the stock's 52-week high for a lesser number of new options that have about the same fair value as those surrendered.

The plan should be cost-neutral since Intel had accounted for the cost of the options when they were granted. Companies often try to conduct such exchanges as a way to motivate and retain employees, since stock options are part of a compensation package.

But they lose value when the market price of the underlying stock falls below the exercise price, which pushes them "underwater."
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