Kakao awards stock options to all employees for first time

2021.05.05 12:41:21 | 2021.05.05 12:53:45

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South Korean messaging platform giant Kakao Corp. will grant all employees stock options for 53.9 billion won ($47.95 million) worth shares of the company in total this year amid its workers’ growing demand for higher compensation after the company’s robust performance last year.

The company said in a regulatory filing on Tuesday that it will award all of its 2,506 employees stock options for total 472,900 shares worth 53.9 billion won in 2021. The options can be exercised at the price of 114,040 won per share.

For 2,223 employees who have worked for one year or longer at the company, Kakao will offer the options for 200 shares per person and 283 employees who have worked for less than one year are eligible to buy 100 shares per person. By 2023, each employee will be given the options for up to 600 shares, the company said.

The options are exercisable for a period of five years starting on May 4, 2023. The employees can exercise half of their options after two years and the remaining half after three years.

This is the first stock option award granted to all Kakao employees since the company’s inception.

The latest stock option offering is largely part of the company’s efforts to incentivize employees amid stable business growth. Employees at Kakao also have been demanding higher compensation for their work after the company’s revenue topped 4 trillion won for the first time and its stock price has rallied.

Kakao is expected to be on a par with rival Naver Corp. in first-quarter earnings, driven by fast business expansion in commerce, content and mobility.

In February, Kakao provided all executives and employees with 10 Kakao shares that can be sold without exercise period or other restraints.

By Oh Dae-seok and Minu Kim

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