Microsoft staff in share options spat: Brokerage firms gave ‘unsuitable investment advice’, say US lawyers
July 4, 2003
By Robert Jaques
Microsoft employees who decided on an ‘exercise and hold strategy’ for their stock options received unsuitable investment advice from their brokerage companies, a US law firm has claimed.
Lawyers at Klayman & Toskes (K&T) are currently representing “numerous Microsoft employees throughout the country in securities arbitration lawsuits” and said that many “prominent full-service brokerage firms recommended unsuitable investment strategies”.
“The utilisation of this leverage exposed Microsoft employees to even greater risk since the ‘exercise and hold strategy’ resulted in a concentrated stock portfolio for which there was no economic justification,” K&T stated.
The legal firm alleges that employees of the software giant could claim that they received bad financial advice from their margin or brokerage firm bank financing programmes based on “the contention that brokerage firms are under a duty to provide only suitable investment advice to their clients”.
K&T is pursuing arbitration suits before the New York Stock Exchange and the National Association of Securities Dealers for securities violations including the misuse of margin, the misuse of stock option plans, failure to supervise, unsuitability claims, misrepresentation and material omissions of fact.