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Disney probe finds Pixar backdated options

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - An investigation by Walt Disney Co. DIS.N found that Pixar Animation Studios had backdated some employee stock options before it was acquired by Disney, Chairman John Pepper said in a statement on Friday.

Pepper said the probe found no one currently associated with the company had engaged in deliberate misconduct, a statement that appeared to clear Disney-Pixar Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter and Apple Inc. AAPL.O Chief Executive Steve Jobs who sits on Disney's board.

The board decided that Disney should pay any additional taxes owed by employees who hold backdated Pixar stock options, Pepper said, adding that he expected no impact to financial statements as a result.

Pixar, founded by Jobs, had awarded stock options to Lasseter when share prices were within a dollar of the annual low in 2000, according to securities filings. Pixar was acquired by Disney last year.

The statement from the Disney board chairman on Friday appeared to lay to rest speculation that the company faced potential liability stemming from an informal government inquiry into stock options practices at Apple.

The statement also appears to include options held by Disney-Pixar President Ed Catmull.

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