SCO execs take personal profits

Senior SCO executives have been divesting their personal portfolios of the company's shares, which have soared since launching its legal action against IBM

Senior SCO executives have been dumping their personal holdings in the company since June, US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings have revealed.

Since SCO launched its legal action against IBM, claiming that Big Blue had violated trade secret laws by sharing proprietary code with open source projects, its share price has sky-rocketed.

The price rise has been enough to convince senior executives to dump their personal shares in the company during the last two months.

SCO's chief financial officer, Robert Bench, has sold 14,000 shares in the company since June.

Bench isn't alone. The company's vice president of worldwide marketing, Jeff Hunsaker, has sold nearly $230,000 (£141,540) of his stock, reducing the number of shares he holds by 42 percent from 35,494 to 20,494 since early June.

Although the reduction may seem severe, Hunsaker, and several others, still have plenty of stock options left, thanks to the grants they received three weeks after the legal action against IBM began. Hunsaker was handed 100,000 options to buy the company's stock for $2.07. SCO shares are currently trading at $13.07.

The company's president and chief executive, Darl McBride, was given 200,000 of the $2.07 options. McBride had some other options up his sleeve, with an SEC filing revealing he purchased over 7,000 shares for a meagre $7.

Some commentators have suggested the company made the legal claims against IBM in order to boost its share price so it could use the stock to acquire Vultus, a web services company.

Vultus received seed money from a private equity management company, the Canopy group, which is a personal investment fund founded by former Novell boss Ray Noorda. Canopy was also a founding investor of Caldera Systems, which later became the SCO Group. In fact, SCO and Vultus were even located in the same building before the acquisition took place.

SCO stock has been flying around all over the place. SCO issued around 300,000 shares at par value $0.001 earlier this month, which was used to acquire Vultus. The stock went to Vultus, Canopy, Vultus chief executive Michael Meservy and others.

Meservy received over 27,000 of the SCO shares for $27. However in the grand scheme of things, that's nothing. In a "Registration statement on form S-3" filed with the SEC, the company reveals how many new shares it can issue whenever it wants.

"We have an authorised capital of 45,000,000 shares of Common Stock, par value $0.001 per share... Our board of directors has authority, without action or vote of the shareholders, to issue all or part of the authorised but unissued shares," the statement said. "Any such issuance will dilute the percentage ownership of shareholders and may dilute the book value of our common stock".

Considering the company has only 13.5 million shares floating around, it is conceivable that the issuance of 45 million shares at a tenth of a cent each may dilute the list price somewhat.

If that wasn't enough to make shareholders twitch, the registration statement contains other information that throws some light on SCO's position in regard to options.

"As of July 1, 2003, we have issued and outstanding options to purchase up to 4,011,975 shares of common stock with exercise prices ranging from $0.66 to $59.00 per share. The existence of such rights to acquire Common Stock at fixed prices may prove a hindrance to our future equity and debt financing and the exercise of such rights will dilute the percentage ownership interest of our stockholders and may dilute the value of their ownership," the statement said.