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Amid the growing pile of derivative lawsuits stemming from the stock option backdating scandal, the latest complaint filed Wednesday against Novell Inc. takes particular aim not just at grants to executives, but to board members as well. The complaint focuses on options Novell board members gave themselves in October 1999, which came in addition to their regularly scheduled options. The “strike price” of the grants was a 17-month low. Filed by San Diego’s Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins, the suit also accuses the current top managers and board of directors and former CEO and chief financial officer of fraudulent accounting from 1999 to 2006. The alleged backdating “has wreaked hundreds of millions of dollars of damages on Novell,” according to the suit. Novell spokesman Bruce Lowry said the company doesn’t comment on ongoing litigation. The derivative suit was the third to be filed against the Waltham, Mass., company in federal court since Novell announced in August it had launched a voluntary, outside review of its stock-option practices. That investigation, conducted by Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, continues. Unlike several other companies facing questions about their stock-option accounting, Novell has not said it is under government investigation. In June, Novell’s chief executive, Jack Messman, and its chief financial officer, Joseph Tibbetts Jr., stepped down. Lowry said those management changes “were not related to the stock options investigation” that is currently under way. Neither Messman nor Tibbetts could be reached for comment Thursday. Tibbetts was hired Tuesday as CFO of the Cambridge, Mass.-based business consulting firm Sapient, a company whose CFO resigned because of stock-option problems. Last month, The Recorder reported that Larry Sonsini, chairman of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, was among the board members to receive the 50,000-share option in October 1999. He was not named in Wednesday’s suit, however. Sonsini left Novell’s board in 2002. At the time of the October 1999 option grants, the complaint claims, the company’s stock plan dictated that non-employee board members would automatically receive options on the date of the company’s annual meeting. And though a proxy statement stated the October 1999 grants were permitted under the company’s 1991 stock plan, the company’s stock plan was revised in 1996. That revision would not have allowed for such out-of-sequence grants, the complaint alleges. A Wilson Sonsini spokeswoman noted Sonsini never exercised his October 1999 grant.

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