Options on Shares vs SAR (Stock Appreciation Rights)

2 min read
Mar 21, 2024 5:00:00 PM

In the world of corporate finance and employee compensation programs, options on shares and SAR (Stock Appreciation Rights) play a crucial role. Both are reward instruments that offer employees an opportunity to benefit from the increase in value of a company's shares. However, they differ in their structure, operation, and impact on employees.

Options on Shares

Options on shares are contracts that grant employees the right to purchase shares of the company at a predetermined price during a specified period. These options are often granted as part of employee compensation programs and encourage employees to contribute to the company's growth.

Features of Options on Shares

  • Right to purchase shares at a fixed price (exercise price).
  • Expiration date by which the option must be exercised.
  • Benefit from the increase in value of shares above the exercise price.

SAR (Stock Appreciation Rights)

SAR (Stock Appreciation Rights) are similar to options on shares, but instead of the right to purchase shares, the employee receives a cash payment equal to the difference in value of the shares between the grant date and the exercise date.

Features of SAR (Stock Appreciation Rights)

  • Right to cash payment equal to the increase in value of shares.
  • Cash payout instead of actual share acquisition.
  • No need to acquire actual shares.

Differences between Options on Shares and SAR

  • Exercise and Acquisition: With options on shares, employees must actually purchase shares at the exercise price, while with SARs, employees only benefit from the increase in value without actually acquiring shares.
  • Payout: Options on shares result in the acquisition of shares, while SARs result in a cash payout equal to the increase in value of the shares.
  • Dependence on Stock Price: Options on shares have an exercise price that must be exceeded to be profitable, while SARs entitle to profit with every increase in the stock's value.

Similarities between Options on Shares and SAR

  • Focused on share value appreciation: Both instruments are designed to allow employees to benefit from the increase in value of the company's shares.
  • Reward instruments: Both options on shares and SARs are often used as part of employee reward and compensation programs to foster loyalty and drive performance.
  • Similar objectives: They are both deployed to motivate employees and encourage them to contribute to the growth and success of the company.

Understanding the differences and similarities between options on shares and SARs is essential for companies looking to establish an effective employee compensation program. Each instrument has its own unique features and impact on employees, allowing companies to choose which best fits their objectives and corporate culture.


Share Council is ready to support your company in setting up SARs and options on shares. Our expertise extends to all aspects of employee participation. In a non-binding conversation, we would like to explore together with you which options best suit your company and how we can assist. Contact us and let's explore the possibilities to move your company forward.