GE Top Executives Certify Earnings; To Expense Stock Options

By Agence France-Presse General Electric Co. said July 31 that its top executives had signed and filed sworn statements certifying company financial reports with U.S. regulators, ahead of an Aug. 14 deadline for major U.S. firms. The action comes under a new rule imposed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that could hold top executives liable for sloppy accounting. Fairfield, Conn.-based GE said Chief Executive Jeff Immelt and Chief Financial Officer Keith Sherin affirmed the company's earnings for 2001 and for 2002 to date. "Certifying our SEC filings underscores our unyielding commitment to integrity and to providing investors with accurate, relevant and understandable information about GE," Immelt said. GE is the first Dow Jones component to certify its books, according to a running list published by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC has asked the chief executive officers of 947 publicly traded U.S. companies to certify their firms' recent financial statements by the Aug. 14 deadline. GE becomes the 10th such company to certify its financial statements so far. GE also said it will expense its employee stock options starting this quarter. The move will shave $30 million, or 1 cent a share, off its 2002 net income. In 2001, the company had a net income of $13.7 billion. Immelt said 35,000 GE employees hold options, which will continue to be an important part of their compensation. The company also said its board of directors has approved measures to improve governance and financial disclosure that will be implemented by year end. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2002

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