My company stock option plan contains the following language:
In the event that the company is subject to an Acquisition, outstanding awards acquired under the plan shall be subject to the agreement evidencing the Acquisition .... Such agreement, without the Participant's consent, shall profide for one or more of the following ...
(x) The cancellation of outstanding awards in exchange for no consideration.
This language would appear to allow the company to simply wipe out all vested options that haven't been exercised before the acquisition. I hope that's not true. In my research I've found lots of pages that say things like:
in this case, your company informs you well in advance of the cancellation of existing employee stock options and gives you a window of time in which you may exercise the options that have already vested.
Your company cannot terminate vested options, unless the plan allows it to cancel all outstanding options (both unvested and vested) upon a change in control. In this situation, your company may repurchase the vested options.
None of these are particularly reassuring and none of those pages back this up with citations or anything that convinces me the authors actually know what they are talking about. Both companies are public, listed on the NYSE and NASDAQ respectively. I could exercise the options before the acquisition but I would need to come up with the exercise cost, which I would rather not do.** Aside from coming up with the cash, I don't actually know if the company will be acquired -- it's just rumors at this point.
What does the law and the SEC allow?
**Yes, I am aware of exercise-and-sell-to-cover, but I can't use that because I am not allowed to trade except in narrow windows due to my position. I don't really have access to MNPI but I might be exposed and the company is conservative in that regard. (Adding this to the question because my "reputation" doesn't allow me to reply to comments.)