Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Stock Options Silver Lining for Barnett Workers

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Stock Options Silver Lining for Barnett Workers

Article excerpt

The acquisition of Barnett Banks Inc. will be worrisome for the

company's employees, who will be wondering about the security of

their jobs.

But there is a silver lining: They all stand to make a nice

little short-term profit from the sale.

Barnett earlier this year awarded options to purchase stock to

all of its 22,000 full-time and part-time employees. The options

give each of those employees the opportunity to buy 200 shares

of common stock at $41, which was the price of Barnett's stock

when the options were granted in January.

The options kick in if Barnett's stock reaches $66 a share for

five days during 10 consecutive trading days, or in five years,

whichever comes first. So with NationsBank's agreement to buy

Barnett, the employees will get a chance to cash in and make a

profit by exercising their options to buy the stock at $41.

Based on yesterday's closing prices, employees would receive

$70.95 for each share. If they exercise their options to buy all

200 shares, they can make a profit of $5,990 each.

Of course, Barnett's top executives stand to profit a lot more

from the sale. According to Barnett's most recent proxy

statement, Chairman and CEO Charles E. Rice holds 967,136

shares, including options he could exercise. At $70.95 a share,

that would give Rice $68.6 million from the sale.

President Allen L. Lastinger Jr. has 472,167 shares, which

would bring him $33.5 million.

Rice and Lastinger are not the largest shareholders among

officers and directors. Thompson L. Rankin, a member of the

board of directors who is CEO of Lykes Brothers Inc., controls

1,248,161 shares.

Barnett has about 190 million shares outstanding, and the

officers and directors together hold only 3.9 million shares --

about 2 percent of the stock.

Barnett has about 45,000 different shareholders, so a lot of

people stand to make a profit from a merger. …

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