UnitedHealth Group Inc. might do more to reform its corporate governance under a settlement taking shape in one of the stock options backdating lawsuits it faces, attorneys said Thursday.
The financial terms are expected to be the same as those announced last month by the company. Those included former Chairman and CEO William McGuire giving back $320 million in stock options and relinquishing $99 million in departure benefits.
Attorneys were in court in Minneapolis Thursday to update U.S. District Judge James Rosenbaum on the lawsuit. A so-called "special litigation committee" appointed by the company hashed out the financial terms, and the settlement discussed on Thursday would build on that.
A final settlement also will include corporate governance reforms as well as an arbitrator's decision on a settlement amount for former director William Spears, said Karl Cambronne, an attorney representing some of the pension funds suing UnitedHealth.
Spears' resignation was announced the same day as McGuire's, after it was disclosed that he had managed some of the McGuire family's money even though he was supposed to be an independent director.
UnitedHealth attorney Peter Carter said UnitedHealth has already made major corporate governance improvements and noted that its corporate governance rating by Institutional Shareholder Services has gone from 19 percent before the backdating scandal to 93 percent.
It's not clear whether Rosenbaum intends to accept the committee's report. He has asked the Minnesota Supreme Court whether state law permits him to look more closely at the special litigation committee's proposal. Cambronne said the court could take as long as a year to rule. UnitedHealth also faces a proposed federal class-action suit and another suit in state court.