Ciena Doles Out Stock Awards to Ex-Nortel Workers

Ciena Corp. (CIEN) has given 195 of its new employees from Nortel Networks a benefit in addition to keeping their jobs: 1.655 million shares of common stock.

The stock was worth $24.8 million on April 1, the day it was distributed, according to The Ottawa Citizen. The distribution is now valued at about $29 million but that could easily change – for better or worse – as Ciena’s stock is known for its volatility.

Philippe Morin, who heads Ciena’s global products group and the Nortel operations, received the most stock awards – 100,000 shares. Morin ran Nortel’s Metro Ethernet Networks (MEN) unit, which Ciena won at auction last November after outbidding Nokia Siemens Networks.

The shares, though, are considered “golden handcuffs,” as The Ottawa Citizen noted. Ciena workers who received the awards won’t be able to cash them in until June 20, 2011. After that, the balance will vest each month over the following three years if the employees remain with Ciena.

Golden handcuffs or no, the 195 stock-award recipients likely are thrilled. After all, sharing what could be millions of dollars’ worth of stock is much better than fighting for pension or unemployment benefits.

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