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VeriSign's CEO Signs Off

Analysts say company could get fresh start as Sclavos walks after 12-year tenure

VeriSign started today with a bang, announcing that president and CEO Stratton D. Sclavos had stepped down from the security firm. (See VeriSign CEO Steps Down.)

In an early-morning teleconference that caught many observers by surprise, the company introduced a new chairman of the board -- Edward Mueller -- and a new president and CEO, William Roper.

VeriSign executives wouldn't elaborate on the timing or specific reason for Sclavos' departure, but they did say it was time for a change. "Earlier today, VeriSign issued a press release that Stratton Sclavos has resigned from the company, and the Board accepted [his resignation] because it believes the company has reached a point where it can benefit from new leadership," Roper said in the teleconference.

The big question on everyone's mind was whether Sclavos' departure has anything to do with the ongoing investigation into VeriSign's stock option grants and practices. But Roper noted that so far, "the findings... didn't show intentional wrongdoing by the management team, including Stratton."

VeriSign was subpoenaed for documents by a grand jury in California last June, and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) also had informally asked for documents on its stock option grants and practices. The company last fall said it would have to restate its financial statements for 2001-2005 and first quarter 2006 to include stock compensation expenses related to past stock grants. According to VeriSign, some grants didn't have the proper documentation, or initial grant dates and prices had been modified.

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