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A group of former UnitedHealth Group Inc. executives have agreed to pay $900 million to settle derivative shareholder lawsuits alleging that the company engaged in stock option backdating. Former chief executive William McGuire, former general counsel David Lubben and former director William Spears, who was once chairman of the compensation committee, have agreed to the settlements, which are subject to court approval. The $900 million includes cash, the re-pricing of previously granted options and the forfeiture of options. The UnitedHealth cases were among the first to be filed in the recent barrage of backdating litigation and involved some of the most egregious allegations. Several public pension funds originally sought the return of $2 billion in unexercised stock options granted from 1997 to 2002. In a press release issued on Thursday, Chestnut & Cambronne, the Minneapolis firm that served as lead counsel for the plaintiffs, called the settlement a “historic recovery for the company.” “Never in the history of derivative litigation generally, or option backdating litigation specifically, has such a massive recovery been obtained on behalf of a company,” the firm stated in the release. A call to UnitedHealth was not returned.

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