FASB hands down final options rule 
Norwalk, Conn. -- At long last, the Financial Accounting Standards Board has issued its final rule mandating that companies expense at fair value the stock options that they grant to their employees. The rule, years in the making, moves options from the footnotes of companies' financial statements and onto their income statements as an expense. It also brings U.S. rules in line with similar rules issued recently by FASB's overseas counterpart, the International Accounting Standards Board.

Adoption of Statement No. 123, Accounting for Stock-Based Compensation, could have a major impact on the earnings of companies that grant stock options extensively or that tend to have volatile stock. It will also put the valuation methodologies that they use under scrutiny by auditors and regulators.

Thanks to a decision to delay the effective date by six months for public companies, the rules are effective for those companies for fiscal periods beginning after June 15, 2005. For private companies and small business issuers, the standard will apply for fiscal years beginning after Dec. 15, 2005.

Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, R-Ill., hailed the rule as a "victory," and urged the next Congress "to respect FASB's decision-making authority and permit the new FASB rule to stand."

Some members of Congress had moved to block the board's final rule by offering up their own bills on options expensing. In July, the House passed H.R. 3574, a diluted options expensing measure that would have required that companies expense options given to their top five executives.

GASB issues ED on firing benefits
Norwalk, Conn. -- The Governmental Accounting Standards Board has published an exposure draft that establishes guidance for termination benefits to state and local government employers. The draft, Accounting for Termination Benefits, would establish accounting guidance for such issues as early-retirement incentives and severance benefits provided as the result of voluntary or involuntary terminations.

GASB said that the statement is intended to enhance the comparability of financial statements by requiring governments to account for similar termination benefits in the same manner. The proposal would require employers to recognize, in financial statements prepared on an accrual basis, the cost of voluntary termination benefits when the offer is accepted, and the cost of involuntary termination benefits when a plan of termination has been approved and communicated to employees. The proposal would also establish measurement and disclosure requirements for termination benefits.

The deadline for comments is March 11, 2005. The ED is available on GASB's Web site at www.gasb.org.

Citrin Cooperman merges in firm
White Plains, N.Y. -- Accounting and business consulting firm Citrin Cooperman & Co. has merged Brewster, N.Y.-based CPA firm J.P. Bryan & Co. into its fold. The deal will add revenue of $600,000, one partner and three staff to Citrin Cooperman's White Plains office, and was effective Jan. 1, 2005. J.P. Bryan & Co. founder John Bryan joins the firm as a partner. J.P. Bryan & Co. specializes in serving the financial services industry and professional medical and dental practices. Citrin Cooperman boasts revenue of $35 million, three offices and 170 employees, including 35 partners. The firm ranked No. 45 among the 2004 Accounting Today Top 100 Firms.

Deloitte names deputy CEO
New York -- Big Four firm Deloitte & Touche LLP has named 26-year veteran Brian Derksen to the post of deputy chief executive. Derksen, 53, also remains a member of Deloitte's executive committee and a member of the global board of directors of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu. He will report to Deloitte chief executive James Quigley. Derksen joined the firm in 1978, and most recently served as national managing partner of the firm's strategic client services practice.

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