UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 

SCHEDULE 14A

 

PROXY STATEMENT PURSUANT TO SECTION 14(a) OF THE

SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

Filed by the Registrant ☒

 

Filed by a Party other than the Registrant ☐

 

Check the appropriate box:

 

 

Preliminary Proxy Statement

 

 

Confidential, for Use of the Commission Only (as permitted by Rule 14a‑6(e)(2))

 

 

Definitive Proxy Statement

 

 

Definitive Additional Materials

 

 

Soliciting Material under § 240.14a‑12

 

AVINGER, INC.

(Name of Registrant as Specified In Its Charter)

 

 

Payment of Filing Fee (Check the appropriate box):

No fee required.

Fee paid previously with preliminary materials.

Fee computed on table in exhibit required by Item 25(b) per Exchange Act Rules 14a-6(i)(1) and 0-11.

 

 

 

image01.jpg

 

400 CHESAPEAKE DRIVE

REDWOOD CITY, CALIFORNIA 94063

 

NOTICE OF ANNUAL MEETING OF STOCKHOLDERS

To Be Held at 1:00 p.m. Pacific Time on December 22, 2023

 

Dear Stockholders of Avinger, Inc.:

 

We cordially invite you to attend the 2023 annual meeting of stockholders, which we refer to as the Annual Meeting, of Avinger, Inc., a Delaware corporation, which will be held on December 22, 2023 at 1:00 p.m. Pacific Time, in person at our offices at 400 Chesapeake Drive, Redwood City, California 94063, for the following purposes, as more fully described in the accompanying proxy statement:

 

 

1.

To elect one Class II director to serve until the 2026 annual meeting of stockholders and until the director’s successor is duly elected and qualified;

 

 

2.

To ratify the appointment of Moss Adams LLP as our independent registered public accounting firm for our fiscal year ending December 31, 2023;

 

 

3.

To approve on a non-binding advisory basis the compensation of our named executive officers;

 

 

4.

To approve an amendment to the Avinger, Inc. 2015 Equity Incentive Plan to increase the number of shares reserved for issuance under the plan by 300,000 shares and eliminate certain obsolete provisions to reflect changes that were made to Section 162(m) of the Internal Revenue Code under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act;

 

 

5.

To approve the adjournment of the Annual Meeting, if necessary, to continue to solicit votes in favor of the foregoing proposals;

 

 

6.

To consider one stockholder proposal, if properly presented at the Annual Meeting, to pursue a merger or acquisition (M&A) of the Company to a larger and more competitive company in bio-tech industry with the assistance of a professional broker experienced in M&A within the same bio-sector;

 

 

7.

To transact such other business as may properly come before the Annual Meeting or any adjournments or postponements thereof.

 

Our board of directors has fixed the close of business on October 31, 2023 as the record date for the Annual Meeting. Only stockholders of record on October 31, 2023 are entitled to notice of and to vote at the Annual Meeting. Further information regarding voting rights and the matters to be voted upon is presented in the accompanying proxy statement.

 

This proxy statement and our annual report are first being mailed on or about November 27, 2023 to all stockholders entitled to vote at the Annual Meeting.

 

Important Notice Regarding the Availability of Proxy Materials for the Annual Meeting to be Held on December 22, 2023: This proxy statement and our annual report can be accessed directly at the following Internet address: www.proxyvote.com. All you have to do is enter the control number located on your proxy card.  

 

 

YOUR VOTE IS IMPORTANT. Whether or not you plan to attend the Annual Meeting, we urge you to submit your vote via the Internet, telephone or mail.

 

We appreciate your continued support of Avinger.

 

 

By order of the Board of Directors,

 

/s/ Jeffrey M. Soinski

 

Jeffrey M. Soinski

 

Chief Executive Officer

 

Redwood City, California

 

November 22, 2023

 

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

   

Page

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT THE PROXY MATERIALS AND OUR ANNUAL MEETING

 

1

BOARD OF DIRECTORS AND CORPORATE GOVERNANCE

 

8

Nominee for Director

 

8

Continuing Directors

 

8

Director Independence

 

9

Board Diversity

 

10

Board Leadership Structure

 

10

Board Meetings and Committees

 

10

Considerations in Evaluating Director Nominees

 

12

Stockholder Recommendations for Nominations to the Board of Directors

 

13

Communications with the Board of Directors

 

14

Code of Business Conduct

 

14

Hedging Policy

 

14

Risk Management

 

14

Director Compensation

 

15

PROPOSAL NO. 1 ELECTION OF DIRECTORS

 

17

Nominees

 

17

Vote Required

 

17

PROPOSAL NO. 2 RATIFICATION OF APPOINTMENT OF INDEPENDENT REGISTERED PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRM

 

18

Fees Paid to the Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm

 

18

Auditor Independence

 

18

Audit Committee Policy on Pre-Approval of Audit and Permissible Non-Audit Services of Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm

 

19

Vote Required

 

19

REPORT OF THE AUDIT COMMITTEE

 

20

PROPOSAL NO. 3 APPROVAL ON A NON-BINDING ADVISORY BASIS OF THE COMPENSATION OF OUR NAMED EXECUTIVE OFFICERS

 

21

PROPOSAL NO. 4 APPROVAL OF AMENDMENT THE AVINGER, INC. 2015 EQUITY INCENTIVE PLAN

 

22

Reasons for Voting for the Proposal

 

22

Description of the 2015 Plan

 

24

Historical 2015 Plan Benefits

 

27

Equity Compensation Plan Information

 

28

Market Value

 

28

Certain U.S. Federal Income Tax Consequences

 

28

Vote Required

 

29

PROPOSAL NO. 5 ADJOURNMENT OF THE ANNUAL MEETING, IF NECESSARY, TO CONTINUE TO SOLICIT VOTES IN FAVOR OF THE FOREGOING PROPOSALS

 

30

PROPOSAL NO. 6 TO CONSIDER ONE STOCKHOLDER PROPOSAL, IF PROPERLY PRESENTED AT THE ANNUAL MEETING, TO PURSUE A MERGER OR ACQUISITION (M&A) OF THE COMPANY TO A LARGER AND MORE COMPETITIVE COMPANY IN BIO-TECH INDUSTRY WITH THE ASSISTANCE OF A PROFESSIONAL BROKER EXPERIENCED IN M&A WITHIN THE SAME BIO-SECTOR

 

31

Stockholder Proposal

 

31

Avinger Board Opposing Statement

 

31

Vote Required

 

32

EXECUTIVE OFFICERS

 

33

EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION

 

34

Processes and Procedures for Compensation Decisions

 

34

Summary Compensation Table

 

34

Executive Employment Letters

 

34

401(k) Plan

 

35

Pension Benefits and Nonqualified Deferred Compensation

 

35

Outstanding Equity Awards at Fiscal Year-End

 

36

Potential Payments upon Termination or Change of Control

 

37

Executive Incentive Compensation Plan

 

38

Retention Bonuses

 

39

SECURITY OWNERSHIP OF CERTAIN BENEFICIAL OWNERS AND MANAGEMENT

 

40

PAY VERSUS PERFORMANCE

 

42

RELATED PERSON TRANSACTIONS

 

45

Policies and Procedures for Related Party Transactions

 

45

OTHER MATTERS

 

46

Fiscal Year 2021 Annual Report and SEC Filings

 

46

APPENDIX A - AMENDED AND RESTATED 2015 EQUITY INCENTIVE PLAN, AS AMENDED

  47

 

 

 

AVINGER, INC.

PROXY STATEMENT

FOR 2023 ANNUAL MEETING OF STOCKHOLDERS

To Be Held at 1:00 p.m. Pacific Time on December 22, 2023

 

This proxy statement and the enclosed form of proxy are furnished in connection with the solicitation of proxies by our board of directors for use at the 2023 annual meeting of stockholders of Avinger, Inc., a Delaware corporation, and any postponements, adjournments or continuations thereof, which we refer to as the Annual Meeting. The Annual Meeting will be held on December 22, 2023 at 1:00 p.m. Pacific Time, at our offices at 400 Chesapeake Drive, Redwood City, California 94063. This proxy statement and our annual report are first being mailed on or about November 27, 2023 to all stockholders entitled to vote at the Annual Meeting.

 

The information provided in the “question and answer” format below is for your convenience only and is merely a summary of the information contained in this proxy statement. You should read this entire proxy statement carefully. Information contained on, or that can be accessed through, our website is not intended to be incorporated by reference into this proxy statement and references to our website address in this proxy statement are inactive textual references only.

 

What matters am I voting on?

 

You will be voting on:

 

 

the election of one Class II director to serve until our 2026 annual meeting of stockholders and until the director’s successor is duly elected and qualified;

 

 

a proposal to ratify the appointment of Moss Adams LLP as our independent registered public accounting firm for our fiscal year ending December 31, 2023;

 

 

approval on a non-binding advisory basis of the compensation of our named executive officers;

 

 

a proposal to amend the Avinger, Inc. 2015 Equity Incentive Plan to increase the number of shares reserved for issuance under the plan by 300,000 shares and eliminate certain obsolete provisions to reflect changes that were made to Section 162(m) of the Internal Revenue Code under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act;

 

 

a proposal to adjourn the Annual Meeting, if necessary, to continue to solicit votes in favor of the foregoing proposals;

 

 

a stockholder proposal to pursue a merger or acquisition (M&A) of the Company to a larger and more competitive company in bio-tech industry with the assistance of a professional broker experienced in M&A within the same bio-sector; and

 

 

any other business as may properly come before the Annual Meeting.

 

How does the board of directors recommend I vote on these proposals?

 

Our board of directors recommends a vote:

 

 

“FOR” the election of James B. McElwee as the Class II director;

 

 

“FOR” the ratification of the appointment of Moss Adams LLP as our independent registered public accounting firm for our fiscal year ending December 31, 2023.

 

 

“FOR” the approval on a non-binding advisory basis of the compensation of our named executive officers.

 

   

1

 

 

“FOR” the amendment of the Avinger, Inc. 2015 Equity Incentive Plan to increase the number of shares reserved for issuance under the plan by 300,000 shares and eliminate certain obsolete provisions to reflect changes that were made to Section 162(m) of the Internal Revenue Code under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

 

 

“FOR” the adjournment of the Annual Meeting, if necessary, to continue to solicit votes in favor of the foregoing proposals.

 

 

“AGAINST” the proposal to pursue a merger or acquisition (M&A) of the Company to a larger and more competitive company in bio-tech industry with the assistance of a professional broker experienced in M&A within the same bio-sector.

 

Who is entitled to vote?

 

Holders of our common stock and our Series E Convertible Preferred Stock (the “Series E Preferred Stock”) as of the close of business on October 31, 2023, the record date for the Annual Meeting, may vote at the Annual Meeting. Holders of our Series A Preferred Stock, par value $0.001 per share, or Series A Preferred Stock, and Series B Convertible Preferred Stock, par value $0.001 per share, or Series B Preferred Stock, are not entitled to notice of or a vote upon any matters to be presented at the Annual Meeting. As of the record date, there were 1,370,118 shares of our common stock outstanding (including 90,190 unvested restricted stock awards) and 1,920 shares of Series E Preferred Stock outstanding. In deciding all matters at the Annual Meeting, each stockholder will be entitled to one vote for each share of our common stock held by them on the record date. Holders of our Series E Preferred Stock are entitled to vote their shares on an as-converted basis. As of the record date, each outstanding share of Series E Preferred Stock was convertible into 93 shares of common stock, meaning that holders of our Series E Preferred Stock will be entitled to cast 93 votes per share of Series E Preferred Stock. Stockholders are not permitted to cumulate votes with respect to the election of directors.

 

Registered Stockholders. If shares of our common stock or Series E Preferred Stock are registered directly in your name with our transfer agent, you are considered the stockholder of record with respect to those shares and this proxy statement was provided to you directly by us. As the stockholder of record, you have the right to grant your voting proxy directly to the individuals listed on the proxy card or vote in person at the Annual Meeting. Throughout this proxy statement, we refer to these registered stockholders as stockholders of record.

 

Street Name Stockholders. If shares of our common stock or Series E Preferred Stock are held on your behalf in a brokerage account or by a bank or other nominee, you are considered to be the beneficial owner of shares that are held in “street name,” and this proxy statement was forwarded to you by your broker or nominee, who is considered the stockholder of record with respect to those shares. As the beneficial owner, you have the right to direct your broker, bank or other nominee as to how to vote your shares. Beneficial owners are also invited to attend the Annual Meeting. However, since a beneficial owner is not the stockholder of record, you may not vote your shares of our common stock in person at the Annual Meeting unless you follow your broker’s procedures for obtaining a legal proxy. If you request a printed copy of our proxy materials by mail, your broker, bank or other nominee will provide a voting instruction form for you to use. Throughout this proxy statement, we refer to stockholders who hold their shares through a broker, bank or other nominee as street name stockholders.

 

How many votes are needed for approval of each proposal?

 

 

Proposal No. 1: The election of directors requires a plurality vote of the shares present in person or by proxy at the Annual Meeting and entitled to vote thereon to be approved. “Plurality” means that the nominees who receive the largest number of votes cast “for” are elected as directors. As a result, any shares not voted “for” a particular nominee (whether as a result of stockholder voting “withhold” or a broker non-vote) will not be counted in such nominee’s favor and will have no effect on the outcome of the election. You may vote “for” or “withhold” on each of the nominees for election as a director.

 

2

 

 

Proposal No. 2: The ratification of the appointment of Moss Adams LLP requires the affirmative vote of a majority of the shares present in person or by proxy at the Annual Meeting and entitled to vote thereon to be approved. Abstentions are considered votes present and entitled to vote on this proposal, and thus, will have the same effect as a vote “against” the proposal. Because this proposal is considered a “routine” matter under applicable stock exchange rules, we do not expect to receive any broker non-votes on this proposal.

 

 

Proposal No. 3: The approval on a non-binding advisory basis of the compensation of our named executive officers requires the affirmative vote of a majority of the shares present in person or by proxy at the Annual Meeting and entitled to vote thereon to be approved. Abstentions are considered votes present and entitled to vote on this proposal, and thus, will have the same effect as a vote “against” the proposal. Broker non-votes will have no effect on the outcome of this proposal.

 

 

Proposal No. 4: The approval of the amendment of the Avinger, Inc. 2015 Equity Incentive Plan requires the affirmative vote of a majority of the shares present in person or by proxy at the Annual Meeting and entitled to vote thereon. Abstentions are considered votes present and entitled to vote on this proposal, and thus, will have the same effect as a vote “against” the proposal. Broker non-votes will have no effect on the outcome of this proposal.

 

 

Proposal No. 5: The approval of the adjournment of the Annual Meeting, if necessary, to continue to solicit votes in favor of the foregoing proposals requires the affirmative vote of a majority of the shares present in person or by proxy at the Annual Meeting and entitled to vote thereon to be approved. Abstentions are considered votes present and entitled to vote on this proposal, and thus, will have the same effect as a vote “against” the proposal. Because this proposal is considered a “routine” matter under applicable stock exchange rules, we do not expect to receive any broker non-votes on this proposal.

 

 

Proposal No. 6: The approval of the stockholder proposal, if properly presented at the Annual Meeting, to pursue a merger or acquisition (M&A) of the Company to a larger and more competitive company in bio-tech industry with the assistance of a professional broker experienced in M&A within the same bio-sector requires the affirmative vote of a majority of the shares present in person or by proxy at the Annual Meeting and entitled to vote thereon to be approved. Abstentions are considered votes present and entitled to vote on this proposal, and thus, will have the same effect as a vote “against” the proposal. Broker non-votes will have no effect on the outcome of this proposal.

 

What is the quorum?

 

A quorum is the minimum number of shares required to be present at the Annual Meeting for the Annual Meeting to be properly held under our amended and restated bylaws and Delaware law. The presence, in person or by proxy, of one-third of all issued and outstanding shares entitled to vote at the Annual Meeting will constitute a quorum at the Annual Meeting. Abstentions, withhold votes and broker non-votes are counted as shares present and entitled to vote for purposes of determining a quorum.

 

How do I vote?

 

If you are a stockholder of record, there are four ways to vote:

 

 

by Internet at www.proxyvote.com, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, until 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on December 21, 2023 (have your proxy card in hand when you visit the website);

 

 

by toll-free telephone at 1-800-690-6903 (have your proxy card in hand when you call);

 

 

by completing and mailing your proxy card (if you received printed proxy materials); or

 

 

by written ballot at the Annual Meeting.

 

3

 

If you are a street name stockholder, you will receive voting instructions from your broker, bank or other nominee. You must follow the voting instructions provided by your broker, bank or other nominee in order to instruct your broker, bank or other nominee on how to vote your shares. Street name stockholders should generally be able to vote by returning an instruction card, or by telephone or on the Internet. However, the availability of telephone and Internet voting will depend on the voting process of your broker, bank or other nominee. As discussed above, if you are a street name stockholder, you may not vote your shares in person at the Annual Meeting unless you obtain a legal proxy from your broker, bank or other nominee.

 

Can I change my vote?

 

Yes. If you are a stockholder of record, you can change your vote or revoke your proxy any time before the Annual Meeting by:

 

 

entering a new vote by Internet or by telephone;

 

 

completing and mailing a later-dated proxy card;

 

 

notifying the Secretary of Avinger, Inc., in writing, at 400 Chesapeake Drive, Redwood City, California 94063; or

 

 

completing a written ballot at the Annual Meeting.

 

If you are a street name stockholder, your broker, bank or other nominee can provide you with instructions on how to change your vote.

 

What do I need to do to attend the Annual Meeting in person?

 

Space for the Annual Meeting is limited. Therefore, admission will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Registration will open at 12:40 p.m. Pacific Time and the Annual Meeting will begin at 1:00 p.m. Pacific Time. Each stockholder should be prepared to present:

 

 

valid government photo identification, such as a driver’s license or passport; and

 

 

if you are a street name stockholder, proof of beneficial ownership as of October 31, 2023, the record date, such as your most recent account statement reflecting your stock ownership prior to October 31, 2023, along with a copy of the voting instruction card provided by your broker, bank, trustee or other nominee or similar evidence of ownership.

 

Use of cameras, recording devices, computers and other electronic devices, such as smart phones and tablets, will not be permitted at the Annual Meeting. Please allow ample time for check-in. Parking is limited.

 

For directions on how to attend the Annual Meeting, please contact Nabeel Subainati, our Vice President, Finance, at (650) 241-7024 or nsubainati@avinger.com.

 

What is the effect of giving a proxy?

 

Proxies are solicited by and on behalf of our board of directors. Jeffrey M. Soinski and Nabeel Subainati have been designated as proxy holders by our board of directors. When proxies are properly dated, executed and returned, the shares represented by such proxies will be voted at the Annual Meeting in accordance with the instructions of the stockholder. If no specific instructions are given, however, the shares will be voted in accordance with the recommendations of our board of directors as described above. If any matters not described in this proxy statement are properly presented at the Annual Meeting, the proxy holders will use their own judgment to determine how to vote the shares. If the Annual Meeting is adjourned, the proxy holders can vote the shares on the new Annual Meeting date as well, unless you have properly revoked your proxy instructions, as described above.

 

4

 

How are proxies solicited for the Annual Meeting?

 

Our board of directors is soliciting proxies for use at the Annual Meeting. All expenses associated with this solicitation will be borne by us. We will reimburse brokers or other nominees for reasonable expenses that they incur in sending our proxy materials to you if a broker, bank or other nominee holds shares of our common stock on your behalf. In addition, our directors and employees may also solicit proxies in person, by telephone, or by other means of communication. Our directors and employees will not be paid any additional compensation for soliciting proxies. To aid in the solicitation of proxies, we have retained the firm of Kingsdale Shareholder Services, U.S., Inc. (“Kingsdale Advisors”), which will receive, in addition to the reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses, a fee of approximately $7,500, plus an additional $8,500 if the proposals presented at the Annual Meeting are approved or rejected by our stockholders, as applicable, in accordance with the recommendations of our Board of Directors.

 

How may my brokerage firm or other intermediary vote my shares if I fail to provide timely directions?

 

Brokerage firms and other intermediaries holding shares of our common stock in street name for their customers are generally required to vote such shares in the manner directed by their customers. In the absence of timely directions, your broker will have discretion to vote your shares on “routine” matters, including: the proposal to ratify the appointment of Moss Adams LLP as our independent registered public accounting firm and the proposal to adjourn the Annual Meeting, if necessary, to continue to solicit votes in favor of the proposals presented at the Annual Meeting. Your broker will not have discretion to vote on the election of directors, the advisory vote on the compensation of our named executive officers, the approval of the amendment to the Avinger, Inc. 2015 Equity Incentive Plan, and the stockholder proposal, each of which is a “non-routine” matter, absent direction from you.

 

Where can I find the voting results of the Annual Meeting?

 

We will announce preliminary voting results at the Annual Meeting. We will also disclose voting results on a Current Report on Form 8-K that we will file with the SEC within four business days after the Annual Meeting. If final voting results are not available to us in time to file a Current Report on Form 8-K within four business days after the Annual Meeting, we will file a Current Report on Form 8-K to publish preliminary results and will provide the final results in an amendment to the Current Report on Form 8-K as soon as they become available.

 

I share an address with another stockholder, and we received only one paper copy of the proxy materials. How may I obtain an additional copy of the proxy materials?

 

We have adopted a procedure called “householding,” which the SEC has approved. Under this procedure, we deliver a single copy of this proxy statement and, if applicable, our proxy materials to multiple stockholders who share the same address unless we have received contrary instructions from one or more of the stockholders. This procedure reduces our printing costs, mailing costs and fees. Stockholders who participate in householding will continue to be able to access and receive separate proxy cards. Upon written or oral request, we will deliver promptly a separate copy of this proxy statement and, if applicable, our proxy materials to any stockholder at a shared address to which we delivered a single copy of any of these materials. To receive a separate copy, or, if a stockholder is receiving multiple copies, to request that we only send a single copy of this proxy statement and, if applicable, our proxy materials, such stockholder may contact us at the following address:

 

Avinger, Inc.

Attention: Investor Relations

400 Chesapeake Drive

Redwood City, California 94063

Tel: (650) 241-7916

Email: ir@avinger.com

 

Street name stockholders may contact their broker, bank or other nominee to request information about householding.

 

5

 

What is the deadline to propose actions for consideration at next year’s annual meeting of stockholders or to nominate individuals to serve as directors?

 

Stockholder Proposals

 

Stockholders may present proper proposals for inclusion in our proxy statement and for consideration at the next annual meeting of stockholders by submitting their proposals in writing to our Secretary in a timely manner. For a stockholder proposal to be considered for inclusion in our proxy statement for our 2024 annual meeting of stockholders, our Secretary must receive the written proposal at our principal executive offices, at the address below, not later than July 30, 2024. In addition, stockholder proposals must comply with the requirements of Rule 14a-8 regarding the inclusion of stockholder proposals in company-sponsored proxy materials. Stockholder proposals should be addressed to:

 

Avinger, Inc.

Attention: Secretary

400 Chesapeake Drive

Redwood City, California 94063

 

Our amended and restated bylaws also establish an advance notice procedure for stockholders who wish to present a proposal before an annual meeting of stockholders but do not intend for the proposal to be included in our proxy statement. Our amended and restated bylaws provide that the only business that may be conducted at an annual meeting of stockholders is business that is (i) specified in our proxy materials with respect to such meeting, (ii) otherwise properly brought before such meeting by or at the direction of our board of directors, or (iii) properly brought before such meeting by a stockholder of record entitled to vote at the annual meeting who has delivered timely written notice to our Secretary, which notice must contain the information specified in our amended and restated bylaws. To be timely for our 2024 annual meeting of stockholders, our Secretary must receive the written notice at our principal executive offices:

 

 

not earlier than September 13, 2024; and

 

 

not later than the close of business on October 13, 2024.

 

In the event that we hold our 2024 annual meeting of stockholders more than 30 days before or more than 60 days after the one-year anniversary of the Annual Meeting, notice of a stockholder proposal that is not intended to be included in our proxy statement must be received no earlier than the close of business on the 120th day before our 2024 annual meeting of stockholders and no later than the close of business on the later of the following two dates:

 

 

the 90th day prior to our 2024 annual meeting of stockholders; or

 

 

the 10th day following the day on which public announcement of the date of our 2024 annual meeting of stockholders is first made.

 

If a stockholder who has notified us of his, her or its intention to present a proposal at an annual meeting does not appear to present his, her or its proposal at such annual meeting, we are not required to present the proposal for a vote at such annual meeting.

 

Nomination of Director Candidates

 

You may propose director candidates for consideration by our nominating and corporate governance committee. Any such recommendations should include the nominee’s name and qualifications for membership on our board of directors and should be directed to our Secretary at the address set forth above. For additional information regarding stockholder recommendations for director candidates, see the section of this proxy statement titled “Board of Directors and Corporate Governance-Stockholder Recommendations for Nominations to the Board of Directors.”

 

6

 

In addition, our amended and restated bylaws permit stockholders to nominate directors for election at an annual meeting of stockholders. To nominate a director, the stockholder must provide the information required by our amended and restated bylaws. In addition, the stockholder must give timely notice to our Secretary in accordance with our amended and restated bylaws, which, in general, require that the notice be received by our Secretary within the time periods described above under “Stockholder Proposals” for stockholder proposals that are not intended to be included in a proxy statement.

 

Availability of Bylaws

 

A copy of our amended and restated bylaws may be obtained by accessing our public filings on the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov. You may also contact our Secretary at our principal executive offices for a copy of the relevant bylaw provisions regarding the requirements for making stockholder proposals and nominating director candidates.

 

Universal Proxy Rules

 

 In addition to complying with the advance notice provisions of our amended and restated bylaws, stockholders who intend to solicit proxies in support of director nominees other than the Company’s nominees must provide timely notice that sets forth the information required by and otherwise complies with Rule 14a-19 under the Exchange Act, which must be received no later than 60 calendar days prior to the anniversary of the previous year’s annual meeting, which will be October 23, 2024 (except that, if the date of the meeting has changed by more than 30 days from the previous year, then notice must be provided by the later of 60 days prior to the date of the annual meeting or the 10th day following the day on which public announcement of the date of the annual meeting is first made by the Company).

 

Who can help answer my questions?

 

If you have any questions concerning the Special Meeting or this proxy statement, would like additional copies of this proxy statement or need help voting your shares, please contact our proxy solicitor:

 

Kingsdale Advisors

Strategic Shareholder Advisor and Proxy Solicitation Agent

745 Fifth Avenue, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10151

North American Toll Free Phone:

1-855-476-7986

Email: contactus@kingsdaleadvisors.com

Call Collect Outside North America: 1-646-741-3814

 

If your broker, bank or other nominee holds your shares, you should also call your broker, bank or other nominee for additional information.

 

7

 

BOARD OF DIRECTORS AND CORPORATE GOVERNANCE

 

Our business affairs are managed under the direction of our board of directors, which is currently composed of four members. Three of our directors are independent within the meaning of the listing standards of The Nasdaq Stock Market, or Nasdaq. Our board of directors is divided into three staggered classes of directors. At each annual meeting of stockholders, a class of directors will be elected for a three-year term to succeed the same class whose term is then expiring.

 

The following table sets forth the names, ages as of September 30, 2023 and certain other information for each of the directors with terms expiring at the Annual Meeting (who are also nominees for election as a director at the Annual Meeting) and for each of the continuing members of our board of directors:

 

 

Class

 

Age

 

Position

 

Director

Since

 

Current

Term

Expires

 

Expiration

of Term

For

Which
Nominated

 

Directors with Terms Expiring at the Annual Meeting/Nominees

                               

James B. McElwee(1)(2)(3)

II

   

71

 

Director

   

2011

   

2023

   

2026

 
                                 

Continuing Directors

                               

Jeffrey M. Soinski

I

   

61

 

President, Chief Executive Officer and Director

   

2014

   

2025

       

James G. Cullen(1)(2)(3)

III

   

81

 

Director and Chairman of the Board of Directors

   

2014

   

2024

   

-

 

Tamara N. Elias(1)(2)(3)

III

   

52

 

Director

   

2019

   

2024

   

-

 

 


(1)

Member of our audit committee

(2)

Member of our compensation committee

(3)

Member of our nominating and corporate governance committee

 

Nominee for Director

 

James B. McElwee has served as a member of our board of directors since March 2011. Mr. McElwee has served as an independent venture capital investor since 2010. Mr. McElwee served as general partner of Weston Presidio, a private equity and venture capital firm, from 1992 to 2010. During his tenure as a general partner and member of the investment committee, Weston Presidio led the start up financing of JetBlue Airways and made investments in Fender Musical Instruments, The Coffee Connection, Guitar Center, Mapquest, Party City, Petzazz, RE/MAX, and others.

 

We believe Mr. McElwee is qualified to serve as a member of our board of directors because of his substantial corporate development and business strategy expertise gained in the venture capital industry.

 

Continuing Directors

 

James G. Cullen has served as a member of our board of directors since December 2014, as our Lead Independent Director since January 2015 and as our Non-Executive Chairman since December 2017. During the last five years, Mr. Cullen has held board and committee positions with various companies. Mr. Cullen is currently a director of Keysight Technologies, which was spun out of Agilent Technologies, where he was previously a director. Mr. Cullen previously served as a director and chairman of the audit committee of Johnson & Johnson and as a director and member of the investment and finance committees of Prudential Financial. From 1993 to 2000, Mr. Cullen was President, Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer of Bell Atlantic Corporation (now Verizon). From 1989 to 1993, he was President and Chief Executive Officer of Bell Atlantic-New Jersey. Mr. Cullen holds a B.A. in Economics from Rutgers University and an M.S. in Management Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

 

8

 

We believe Mr. Cullen is qualified to serve as a member of our board of directors because of his extensive experience serving on the boards of public companies as well as his financial and business expertise.

 

Tamara N. Elias, M.D., was appointed to our board of directors in December 2019. Dr. Elias currently serves as SVP, Strategy and Business Incubation at Nuance Communications, a Microsoft Company. Previously she served as VP, Head of Global Partnerships at Merck from 2020 to 2022. Dr. Elias was VP, Clinical Product Development at Aetna from 2018 to 2020. From 2015 to 2017, Dr. Elias was Vice President of Corporate Strategy and Business Development for the $8 billion medical segment at Becton Dickinson. From 2007 to 2015, Dr. Elias was a Partner with Essex Woodlands Healthcare Partners, a healthcare only growth equity firm founded in 1985. Earlier in her career, Dr. Elias was a management consultant at McKinsey, advising pharmaceutical, diagnostic and device companies in R&D, product commercialization and M&A. She currently serves on the board of REVA Medical and BehaVR. Dr. Elias has previously served on the boards of several private companies, including Millennium Pharmacy Systems (sold to PharMerica), BreatheAmerica and Influence Health (sold to Healthgrades) as well as on the public company board of ATS Medical (sold to Medtronic). Dr. Elias holds degrees in Biology and Anthropology from Yale University, and an M.D. from The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. She trained as a general surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital.

 

We believe Dr. Elias is qualified to serve as a member of our board of directors because of her substantial corporate development and business strategy expertise and her experience in the healthcare industry.

 

Jeffrey M. Soinski has served as our President, Chief Executive Officer and a member of our Board of Directors since December 2014. From its formation in September 2009 until the acquisition of its Unisyn business by GE Healthcare in May 2013, Mr. Soinski served as Chief Executive Officer of Medical Imaging Holdings and its primary operating company Unisyn Medical Technologies, a national provider of technology-enabled products and services to the medical imaging industry. Mr. Soinski was a Director of Medical Imaging Holdings and its remaining operating company Consensys Imaging Service from September 2009 until its sale in October 2017. Mr. Soinski served periodically as a Special Venture Partner from July 2008 to June 2013 and as a Special Investment Partner since October 2016 for Galen Partners, a leading healthcare-focused private equity firm, which included Medical Imaging Holdings as one of its portfolio companies. From 2001 until its acquisition by C.R. Bard in 2008, Mr. Soinski was President and CEO of Specialized Health Products International, a publicly-traded manufacturer and marketer of proprietary safety medical products. He served on the board of directors of Merriman Holdings, parent of Merriman Capital, a San Francisco-based investment banking and brokerage firm, from 2008 until March 2016. Mr. Soinski holds a B.A. degree from Dartmouth College.

 

We believe Mr. Soinski is qualified to serve as a member of our board of directors because of his extensive corporate finance and business strategy experience as well as his experience with public companies.

 

 

Director Independence

 

Our common stock is listed on The Nasdaq Capital Market. Under the Nasdaq listing standards, independent directors must comprise a majority of a listed company’s board of directors. In addition, the Nasdaq listing standards require that, subject to specified exceptions, each member of a listed company’s audit, compensation, and nominating and corporate governance committees be independent. Under the Nasdaq listing standards, a director will only qualify as an “independent director” if, in the opinion of that listed company’s board of directors, that director does not have a relationship that would interfere with the exercise of independent judgment in carrying out the responsibilities of a director.

 

Audit committee members must also satisfy the additional independence criteria set forth in Rule 10A-3 under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the “Exchange Act, and the Nasdaq listing standards. Compensation committee members must also satisfy the additional independence criteria set forth in Rule 10C-1 under the Exchange Act and the Nasdaq listing standards.

 

9

 

Our board of directors has undertaken a review of the independence of each of our directors. Based on information provided by each director concerning his background, employment and affiliations, our board of directors has determined that Messrs. Cullen, McElwee and Dr. Elias do not have a relationship that would interfere with the exercise of independent judgment in carrying out the responsibilities of a director and that each of these directors is “independent” as that term is defined under the Nasdaq listing standards. In making these determinations, our board of directors considered the current and prior relationships that each non-employee director has with our company and all other facts and circumstances our board of directors deemed relevant in determining their independence, including the beneficial ownership of our capital stock by each non-employee director, and the transactions involving them described below under the heading “Related Person Transactions.”

 

Board Diversity

 

The matrix below sets forth the demographic characteristics of the members of our Board, as reported by our directors:

 

Board Diversity Matrix (As of September 30, 2023)

Board Size:

Total Number of Directors

4

 

Female

Male

Part I: Gender Identity

   

Directors

1

3

Part II: Demographic Background

   

White

1

3

 

Board Leadership Structure

 

We believe that the structure of our board of directors and its committees provides strong overall management of our company. Our board of directors does not have a formal policy on whether the roles of Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of our board of directors should be separate. However, Messrs. Soinski and Cullen, respectively, hold these positions at present.

 

Our Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Soinski, is responsible for setting the strategic direction of our company, the general management and operation of the business and the guidance and oversight of senior management. In his capacity as Chairman of our board of directors, Mr. Cullen is also responsible for the guidance and oversight of senior management, monitoring the content, quality and timeliness of information sent to our board of directors, consultation with our board of directors regarding the oversight of our business affairs, presiding over meetings of our board of directors and performing such additional duties as our Board may otherwise determine and delegate. At the end of each board meeting, the independent directors are expected to meet in executive session, without Mr. Soinski present. Following each meeting, Mr. Cullen is expected to provide feedback to Mr. Soinski on his performance and the performance of our employees during the meeting and to recommend new agenda items for the next meeting.

 

Board Meetings and Committees

 

During our fiscal year ended December 31, 2022, our board of directors held 9 meetings (including regularly scheduled and special meetings), and each director attended at least 75% of the aggregate of (i) the total number of meetings of our board of directors held during the period for which he or she has been a director and (ii) the total number of meetings held by all committees of our board of directors on which he or she served during the periods that he or she served.

 

All of our directors who were directors at the time attended our 2022 annual meeting of stockholders telephonically. Although we do not have a formal policy regarding attendance by members of our board of directors at annual meetings of stockholders, we strongly encourage our directors to attend.

 

Our board of directors has established an audit committee, a compensation committee and a nominating and corporate governance committee. The composition and responsibilities of each of the committees of our board of directors are described below. Members will serve on these committees until their resignation or until as otherwise determined by our board of directors.

 

10

 

Audit Committee

 

Messrs. McElwee, Cullen, and Dr. Elias serve on our audit committee. Mr. Cullen serves as the chair of the audit committee. Our board of directors has assessed whether all members of the audit committee meet the composition requirements of Nasdaq, including the requirements regarding financial literacy and financial sophistication. Our board of directors found that Messrs. McElwee, Cullen, and Dr. Elias have met the financial literacy and financial sophistication requirements and that Messrs. McElwee, Cullen and Dr. Elias are independent under SEC and Nasdaq rules. In addition, our board of directors has determined that Mr. Cullen is an audit committee financial expert within the meaning of Item 407(d) of Regulation S-K under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Securities Act. The audit committee’s primary responsibilities include:

 

 

appointing, approving the compensation of, and assessing the qualifications and independence of our independent registered public accounting firm, which currently is Moss Adams LLP;

 

 

reviewing and discussing with management and our independent registered public accounting firm our annual and quarterly financial statements and related disclosures;

 

 

preparing the audit committee report required by SEC rules to be included in our annual proxy statements;

 

 

monitoring our internal control over financial reporting, disclosure controls and procedures;

 

 

reviewing our risk management status;

 

 

establishing policies regarding hiring employees from our independent registered public accounting firm and procedures for the receipt and retention of accounting related complaints and concerns;

 

 

meeting independently with our independent registered public accounting firm and management; and

 

 

monitoring compliance with the code of business conduct and ethics for financial management.

 

All audit and non-audit services must be approved in advance by the audit committee. Our audit committee operates under a written charter that satisfies the applicable rules and regulations of the SEC and Nasdaq listing standards. A copy of the charter of our audit committee is available on our website at www.avinger.com under “Investors-Governance.” During our fiscal year ended December 31, 2022, our audit committee held four meetings.

 

Compensation Committee

 

Messrs. Cullen, McElwee and Dr. Elias serve on our compensation committee. Mr. McElwee serves as the chair of the compensation committee. Each member of our compensation committee meets the requirements for independence for compensation committee members under the Nasdaq listing standards and SEC rules and regulations, including Rule 10C-1 under the Exchange Act. Each member of our compensation committee is also a non-employee director, as defined pursuant to Rule 16b-3 promulgated under the Exchange Act. Our compensation committee is responsible for, among other things:

 

 

annually reviewing and approving corporate goals and objectives relevant to compensation of our chief executive officer and our other executive officers;

 

 

determining the compensation of our chief executive officer and our other executive officers;

 

11

 

 

reviewing and making recommendations to our board of directors with respect to director compensation; and

 

 

overseeing and administering our equity incentive plans.

 

Our Chief Executive Officer and Principal Financial Officer make compensation recommendations for our other executive officers and initially propose the corporate and departmental performance objectives under our Executive Incentive Compensation Plan to the compensation committee. From time to time, the compensation committee may use outside compensation consultants to assist it in analyzing our compensation programs and in determining appropriate levels of compensation and benefits. For example, we have periodically engaged Radford, a business unit of Aon Hewitt, to help develop our compensation philosophy, select a group of peer companies to use for compensation benchmarking purposes and advise on cash and equity compensation levels for our directors, executives and other employees based on current market practices. We did not use any compensation consultants during our year ended December 31, 2022. Our compensation committee operates under a written charter that satisfies the applicable rules and regulations of the SEC and Nasdaq listing standards. A copy of the charter of our compensation committee is available on our website at www.avinger.com under “Investors-Governance.” During our fiscal year ended December 31, 2022, our compensation committee held four meetings.

 

Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee

 

Messrs. Cullen, McElwee and Dr. Elias serve on our nominating and corporate governance committee. Dr. Elias serves as the chair of the nominating and corporate governance committee. Each member of our nominating and corporate governance committee meets the requirements for independence under the Nasdaq listing standards and SEC rules and regulations. Our nominating and corporate governance committee is responsible for, among other things:

 

 

identifying individuals qualified to become members of our board of directors;

 

 

recommending to our board of directors the persons to be nominated for election as directors and to each of our board’s committees;

 

 

reviewing and making recommendations to our board of directors with respect to management succession planning;

 

 

developing, updating and recommending to our board of directors corporate governance principles and policies; and

 

 

overseeing the evaluation of our board of directors and committees.

 

Our nominating and corporate governance committee operates under a written charter that satisfies the applicable Nasdaq listing standards. A copy of the charter of our nominating and corporate governance committee is available on our website at www.avinger.com under “Investors-Governance.” During our fiscal year ended December 31, 2022, our nominating and corporate governance committee held two meetings.

 

Considerations in Evaluating Director Nominees

 

Our nominating and corporate governance committee uses a variety of methods for identifying and evaluating director nominees. In its evaluation of director candidates, our nominating and corporate governance committee will consider the current size and composition of our board of directors and the needs of our board of directors and the respective committees of our board of directors. Some of the qualifications that our nominating and corporate governance committee considers include, without limitation, issues of character, integrity, judgment, diversity of experience, independence, area of expertise, corporate experience, length of service, potential conflicts of interest and other commitments. We also look for nominees who have skills and experience that would support the short and long-term goals and strategy of the Company. Our nominating and corporate governance committee seeks to maintain an appropriate balance of backgrounds, skills, knowledge, and experience to support current and future needs. Nominees must also have the ability to offer advice and guidance to our Chief Executive Officer based on past experience in positions with a high degree of responsibility and be leaders in the companies or institutions with which they are affiliated.

 

12

 

In the case of incumbent directors whose terms of office are set to expire, our nominating and corporate governance committee reviews these directors’ overall service to the Company during their terms, including the number of meetings attended, level of participation, quality of performance and any other relationships and transactions that might impair the directors’ independence.

 

Director candidates, including incumbent directors, must have sufficient time available in the judgment of our nominating and corporate governance committee to perform all board of director and committee responsibilities. Members of our board of directors are expected to prepare for, attend and participate in all board of director and applicable committee meetings. Other than the foregoing, there are no stated minimum criteria for director nominees, although our nominating and corporate governance committee may also consider such other factors as it may deem, from time to time, are in our and our stockholders’ best interests.

 

Although our board of directors does not maintain a specific policy with respect to board diversity, our board of directors believes that our board of directors should be a diverse body, and our nominating and corporate governance committee considers a broad range of backgrounds and experiences. In making determinations regarding nominations of directors, our nominating and corporate governance committee may take into account the benefits of diverse viewpoints, backgrounds, and experiences. Our nominating and corporate governance committee also considers these and other factors as it oversees the annual board of director and committee evaluations. After completing its review and evaluation of director candidates, our nominating and corporate governance committee recommends to our full board of directors the director nominees for selection.

 

In addition to utilizing personal networks and relationships to identify potential candidates, our nominating and corporate governance committee may also engage, if it deems appropriate, a professional search firm. The nominating and corporate governance committee conducts any appropriate and necessary inquiries into the backgrounds and qualifications of possible candidates after considering the function and needs of the board. The nominating and corporate governance committee meets to discuss and consider the candidates’ qualifications and then selects a nominee for recommendation to the board.

 

Stockholder Recommendations for Nominations to the Board of Directors

 

Our nominating and corporate governance committee will consider candidates for director recommended by stockholders, so long as such recommendations comply with our amended and restated certificate of incorporation, amended and restated bylaws and applicable laws, rules and regulations, including those promulgated by the SEC. Our nominating and corporate governance committee will evaluate such recommendations in accordance with its charter, our amended and restated bylaws, our policies and procedures for director candidates, as well as the regular director nominee criteria described above. This process is designed to ensure that our board of directors includes members with diverse backgrounds, skills and experience, including appropriate financial and other expertise relevant to our business. Eligible stockholders wishing to recommend a candidate for nomination should contact our Secretary in writing. Such recommendations must include information about the candidate, a statement of support by the recommending stockholder, evidence of the recommending stockholder’s ownership of our common stock and a signed letter from the candidate confirming willingness to serve on our board of directors. Our nominating and corporate governance committee has discretion to decide which individuals to recommend for nomination as directors.

 

Under our amended and restated bylaws, stockholders may also nominate candidates for our board of directors. Any nomination must comply with the requirements set forth in our amended and restated bylaws and should be sent in writing to our Secretary at 400 Chesapeake Drive, Redwood City, California 94063. To be timely for our 2024 annual meeting of stockholders, our Secretary must receive the nomination no earlier than September 13, 2024 and no later than October 13, 2024.

 

13

 

Communications with the Board of Directors

 

Interested parties wishing to communicate with our board of directors or with an individual member or members of our board of directors may do so by writing to our board of directors or to the particular member or members of our board of directors and mailing the correspondence to our Secretary at Avinger, Inc., 400 Chesapeake Drive, Redwood City, California 94063. Our Secretary, in consultation with appropriate members of our board of directors as necessary, will review all incoming communications and, if appropriate, all such communications will be forwarded to the appropriate member or members of our board of directors, or if none is specified, to the Chairman of our board of directors.

 

Code of Business Conduct

 

We have adopted a code of business conduct that applies to all of our employees, officers and directors, including those officers responsible for financial reporting. The code of business conduct is available on our website at www. investors.avinger.com/governance. Updates to or waivers of the code will be disclosed on the same website. We intend to satisfy the disclosure requirement under Item 5.05 of Form 8-K regarding any amendment to, or waiver of, any provision of the code in the future by disclosing such information on our website.

 

Hedging Policy

 

Our directors and executive officers are prohibited from buying or selling publicly traded options, puts, calls or other derivative instruments related to Company stock. All other employees are discouraged from engaging in hedging transactions related to Company stock.

 

Risk Management

 

Risk is inherent with every business, and we face a number of risks, including strategic, financial, business and operational, political, regulatory, legal and compliance, and reputational risk. We have designed and implemented processes to manage risk in our operations. Management is responsible for the day-to-day management of risks the company faces, while our board of directors, as a whole and with the assistance of its committees, has responsibility for the oversight of risk management. In its risk oversight role, our board of directors has the responsibility to satisfy itself that the risk management processes designed and implemented by management are appropriate and functioning as designed.

 

Our board of directors believes that open communication between management and our board of directors is essential for effective risk management and oversight. Our board of directors meets with our Chief Executive Officer and other members of the senior management team at quarterly meetings of our board of directors, where, among other topics, they discuss strategy and risks facing the company, as well as at such other times as they deem appropriate.

 

While our board of directors is ultimately responsible for risk oversight, our board committees assist our board of directors in fulfilling its oversight responsibilities in certain areas of risk. Our audit committee assists our board of directors in fulfilling its oversight responsibilities with respect to risk management in the areas of internal control over financial reporting and disclosure controls and procedures, legal and regulatory compliance, and discusses with management and the independent auditor guidelines and policies with respect to risk assessment and risk management. Our audit committee also reviews our major financial risk exposures and the steps management has taken to monitor and control these exposures. Our audit committee additionally monitors certain key risks on a regular basis throughout the fiscal year, such as risk associated with internal control over financial reporting and liquidity risk. Our nominating and corporate governance committee assists our board of directors in fulfilling its oversight responsibilities with respect to the management of risk associated with board organization, membership and structure, and corporate governance. Our compensation committee assesses risks created by the incentives inherent in our compensation policies. Finally, our full board of directors reviews strategic and operational risk in the context of reports from the management team, receives reports on all significant committee activities and evaluates the risks inherent in significant transactions.

 

14

 

Director Compensation

 

Our board of directors approved our Outside Director Compensation Policy in January 2015 to compensate each non-employee director for his or her service, and amended certain aspects of this policy in August 2018. Our board of directors will have the discretion to revise non-employee director compensation as it deems necessary or appropriate. Under our Outside Director Compensation Policy, non-employee directors will receive compensation in the form of equity and cash, as described below:

 

Cash Compensation.  All non-employee directors will be entitled to receive the following cash compensation for their services:

 

 

$35,000 per year for service as a board member;

 

 

$25,000 per year additionally for service as chairman of the board;

 

 

$20,000 per year additionally for service as chairman of the audit committee;

 

 

$10,000 per year additionally for service as an audit committee member;

 

 

$15,000 per year additionally for service as chairman of the compensation committee;

 

 

$7,500 per year additionally for service as a compensation committee member;

 

 

$10,000 per year additionally for service as chairman of the nominating and corporate governance committee; and

 

 

$5,000 per year additionally for service as a nominating and corporate governance committee member.

 

All cash payments to non-employee directors, or the Retainer Cash Payments, will be paid semiannually with the first semiannual installment payable on the date of our annual meeting of stockholders or, if no annual meeting occurs in a given year, May 1, and the second semiannual installment payable on November 1 of each year.

 

Election to Receive Restricted Stock in Lieu of Cash Payments.  All non-employee directors may elect to convert a Retainer Cash Payment into restricted stock units (“RSUs”) or restricted stock awards (“RSAs”) (collectively, “Retainer Equity Grants”), with a grant date fair value equal to the applicable Retainer Cash Payment. Each Retainer Equity Grant will be granted on the date that the applicable Retainer Cash Payment was scheduled to be paid, and all of the shares underlying the Retainer Equity Grants will vest and become exercisable six months from the date of grant, subject to continued service as a director through the applicable vesting date. The Retainer Equity Grants will be subject to certain terms and conditions as described below under the section titled “Director Compensation-Equity Compensation.”

 

Elections to convert a Retainer Cash Payment into a Retainer Equity Grant must generally be made on or prior to December 31 of the year prior to the year in which the Retainer Cash Payment is scheduled to be paid, or such earlier deadline as is established by our board of directors or compensation committee. A newly appointed non-employee director will be permitted to elect to convert Retainer Cash Payments payable in the same calendar year into Retainer Equity Grants, provided that such election is made prior to the date the individual becomes a non-employee director.

 

15

 

Equity Compensation.  Nondiscretionary, automatic grants of RSUs or RSAs will be made to our non-employee directors.

 

 

Initial Grant. Generally, each person who first becomes a non-employee director will be granted RSUs or RSAs having a grant date fair value equal to $115,000, or the Initial Grant. The Initial Grant will typically be granted on the date of the first meeting of our board of directors or compensation committee occurring on or after the date on which the individual first became a non-employee director. The Initial Grant will vest and become exercisable as to one thirty-sixth (1/36th) of the shares subject to such Initial Grant on each monthly anniversary of the commencement of the non-employee director’s service as a director, subject to the continued service as a director through the applicable vesting date.

 

 

Annual Grant. Once each calendar year, on the same date that our board of directors grants annual equity awards to our senior executives, each non-employee director will be granted RSUs or RSAs having a grant date fair value equal to $75,000, or the Annual Grant. All of the shares underlying the Annual Grant will vest and become exercisable one year from the date of grant, subject to continued service as a director through the applicable vesting date.

 

The grant date fair value is the closing sales price for the Company’s common stock (or the closing bid, if no sales were reported) as quoted on such exchange or system on the date such award is granted.

 

Any RSUs or RSAs granted under our outside director compensation policy will fully vest and become exercisable in the event of a change in control, as defined in our 2015 Plan, provided that the holder remains a director through such change in control. Further, our 2015 Plan provides that in the event of a merger or change in control, as defined in our 2015 Plan, each outstanding equity award granted under our 2015 Plan that is held by a non-employee director will fully vest, all restrictions on the shares subject to such award will lapse and, with respect to awards with performance-based vesting, all performance goals or other vesting criteria will be deemed achieved at 100% of target levels, and all of the shares subject to such award will become fully exercisable, if applicable, provided such optionee remains a director through such merger or change in control.

 

Compensation for Fiscal Year 2022

 

The following table sets forth a summary of the compensation received by our non-employee directors who received compensation during our fiscal year ended December 31, 2022:

 

Name

 

Fees earned or

   

Option

   

Stock

   

Total

 
   

paid in cash

   

awards(1)

   

awards(2)

         

James G. Cullen

  $ 92,500     $ -     $ 75,000     $ 167,500  

James B. McElwee

    65,000       -       75,000       140,000  

Tamara Elias (3)

    62,500       -       75,000       137,500  

 


(1)

As of December 31, 2022, Messrs. Cullen and McElwee had outstanding options to purchase a total of 169 and 12 shares of our common stock, respectively.

(2)

All non-employee directors that were directors at the time of grant received an Annual Grant on January 18, 2023 for the prior fiscal year ended December 31, 2022.

 

Directors who are also our employees receive no additional compensation for their service as directors. During 2022, Jeffrey M. Soinski, our President, Chief Executive Officer and a director, was also our employee. See the section titled “Summary Compensation Table” below for additional information about the compensation for Mr. Soinski.

 

 

Officer and Director Share Purchase Plan

 

On August 22, 2018, the Board of Directors of the Company approved the adoption of an Officer and Director Share Purchase Plan (“ODPP”), which allowed executive officers and directors to purchase shares of our common stock at fair market value in lieu of salary or, in the case of directors, director fees. Eligible individuals were allowed voluntarily participate in the ODPP by authorizing payroll deductions or, in the case of directors, deductions from director fees for the purpose of purchasing common stock. Elections to participate in the ODPP may only be made during open trading windows under our insider trading policy when the participant does not otherwise possess material non-public information concerning the Company. There was no common stock issued under the ODPP during either the year ended December 31, 2022 or 2021. On May 16, 2022, the Board of Directors of the Company terminated the Amended and Restated Officer and Director Share Purchase Plan due to the administrative costs of maintaining such plan and the limited amount of remaining shares. Consequently, there are no longer any shares reserved for issuance under this plan.

 

16

 

PROPOSAL NO. 1

 

ELECTION OF DIRECTORS

 

Our board of directors is currently composed of four members. In accordance with our amended and restated certificate of incorporation, our board of directors is divided into three staggered classes of directors. At the Annual Meeting, one Class II director will be elected for a three-year term to succeed the same class whose term is then expiring.

 

Each director’s term continues until the election and qualification of his or her successor, or such director’s earlier death, resignation, or removal. Any increase or decrease in the number of directors will be distributed among the three classes so that, as nearly as possible, each class will consist of one-third of our directors. This classification of our board of directors may have the effect of delaying or preventing changes in control of our company.

 

Nominees

 

Our nominating and corporate governance committee has recommended, and our board of directors has approved, James B. McElwee as nominee for election as the Class II director at the Annual Meeting. If elected, James B. McElwee will serve as the Class II director until our 2026 annual meeting of stockholders and until his successor is duly elected and qualified. James B. McElwee is currently a director of our company. For information concerning James B. McElwee, please see the section of this proxy statement titled “Board of Directors and Corporate Governance.”

 

If you are a stockholder of record and you sign your proxy card or vote by telephone or over the Internet, but do not give instructions with respect to the voting of directors, your shares will be voted “FOR” the election of James B. McElwee. We expect that James B. McElwee will accept such nomination; however, in the event that he is unable or declines to serve as a director at the time of the Annual Meeting, the proxies will be voted for any nominee designated by our board of directors to fill such vacancy. If you are a street name stockholder and you do not give voting instructions to your broker or nominee, your broker will not vote your shares on this matter.

 

Vote Required

 

The election of directors requires a plurality vote of the shares of our common stock present in person or by proxy at the Annual Meeting and entitled to vote thereon to be approved. Broker non-votes and abstentions will have no effect on this proposal. If a proxy card is signed and returned but no direction is made, the persons named in your proxy will vote your shares “FOR” each of the nominees named in this Proxy Statement.

 

THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS RECOMMENDS A VOTE FOR THE NOMINEE NAMED ABOVE.

 

17

 

PROPOSAL NO. 2

 

RATIFICATION OF APPOINTMENT OF INDEPENDENT REGISTERED PUBLIC ACCOUNTING FIRM

 

Our audit committee has appointed Moss Adams LLP, or Moss Adams, independent registered public accountants, to audit our financial statements for our fiscal year ending December 31, 2023. Moss Adams has served as our independent registered public accounting firm since October 11, 2017.

 

Notwithstanding the appointment of Moss Adams and even if our stockholders ratify the appointment, our audit committee, in its discretion, may appoint another independent registered public accounting firm at any time during our fiscal year if our audit committee believes that such a change would be in the best interests of our company and our stockholders. At the Annual Meeting, our stockholders are being asked to ratify the appointment of Moss Adams as our independent registered public accounting firm for our fiscal year ending December 31, 2023. Our audit committee is submitting the appointment of Moss Adams to our stockholders because we value our stockholders’ views on our independent registered public accounting firm and as a matter of good corporate governance. Representatives of Moss Adams will be present at the Annual Meeting, and they will have an opportunity to make a statement and will be available to respond to appropriate questions from our stockholders.

 

If our stockholders do not ratify the appointment of Moss Adams, our board of directors may reconsider the appointment.

 

Fees Paid to the Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm

 

The following table represents aggregate fees billed to us for the years ended December 31, 2022 and 2021 by Moss Adams, as applicable. All fees below were approved by our Audit Committee.

 

Year ending December 31,

 

2022

   

2021

 

Audit fees(1)(2)

  $ 454,515     $ 414,750  

Tax fees (3)

    36,250        

All other fees(4)

          1,725  

Total

  $ 490,765     $ 416,475  

 


(1)

Audit fees consist of fees incurred for professional services rendered for the audit of our annual financial statements and review of the quarterly financial statements, assistance with registration statements filed with the SEC, and services that are normally provided by our independent registered public accounting firm in connection with regulatory filings or engagements. 

(2)

For the years ended December 31, 2022 and 2021, audit fees also include fees related to our public offerings and review of documents filed with the SEC of $72,315 and $52,500, respectively.

(3)

For the year ended December 31, 2022, tax fees were comprised of compilation and filing activities relating to federal and state income tax returns, and consultations relating to general tax matters.

(4)

For the year ended December 31, 2021, all other fees were comprised of consultations relating to sales tax and other miscellaneous matters.

 

Auditor Independence

 

In our fiscal year ended December 31, 2022, there were no other professional services provided by Moss Adams that would have required our audit committee to consider their compatibility with maintaining the independence of Moss Adams.

 

18

 

Audit Committee Policy on Pre-Approval of Audit and Permissible Non-Audit Services of Independent Registered Public Accounting Firm

 

Our audit committee has established a policy governing our use of the services of our independent registered public accounting firm.  Under this policy, our audit committee is required to pre-approve all audit and permissible non-audit services performed by our independent registered public accounting firm in order to ensure that the provision of such services does not impair the public accountants’ independence.  All fees paid to Moss Adams for our fiscal years ended December 31, 2022 and 2021 were pre-approved by our audit committee.

 

Vote Required

 

The ratification of the appointment of Moss Adams as our independent registered public accounting firm requires the affirmative vote of a majority of the shares of our common stock present in person or by proxy at the Annual Meeting and entitled to vote thereon. Abstentions will have the effect of a vote AGAINST the proposal. Because the appointment of an independent registered public accounting firm is considered a routine matter under applicable stock exchange rules, we do not anticipate any broker non-votes with respect to this proposal. If a proxy card is signed and returned but no direction is made, the persons named in your proxy will vote your shares “FOR” this proposal.

 

THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS RECOMMENDS A VOTE FOR THE RATIFICATION OF THE APPOINTMENT OF MOSS ADAMS.

 

19

 

REPORT OF THE AUDIT COMMITTEE

 

The audit committee is a committee of the board of directors comprised solely of independent directors as required by the Nasdaq listing standards and rules and regulations of the SEC. The audit committee operates under a written charter approved by the board of directors, which is available on the company’s website at www.avinger.com under “Investors-Governance.” The composition of the audit committee, the attributes of its members and the responsibilities of the audit committee, as reflected in its charter, are intended to be in accordance with applicable requirements for corporate audit committees. The audit committee will review and assesses the adequacy of its charter and the audit committee’s performance on an annual basis.

 

With respect to the company’s financial reporting process, the management of the company is responsible for (1) establishing and maintaining internal controls and (2) preparing the company’s financial statements. The company’s independent registered public accounting firm, Moss Adams, is responsible for auditing these financial statements. It is the responsibility of the audit committee to oversee these activities. It is not the responsibility of the audit committee to prepare the company’s financial statements. These are the fundamental responsibilities of management. In the performance of its oversight function, the audit committee has:

 

 

reviewed and discussed the audited financial statements with management and Moss Adams;

 

 

discussed with Moss Adams the matters required to be discussed by applicable requirements of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board and the SEC; and

 

 

received the written disclosures and the letter from Moss Adams required by applicable requirements of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board regarding the independent accountant’s communications with the audit committee concerning independence, and has discussed with Moss Adams its independence.

 

Based on the audit committee’s review and discussions with management and Moss Adams, the audit committee recommended to the board of directors that the audited financial statements be included in the Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2022 for filing with the SEC.

 

Respectfully submitted by the members of the audit committee of the board of directors:

 

James G. Cullen (Chair)

James B. McElwee

Tamara Elias

 

This report of the audit committee is required by the SEC and, in accordance with the SEC’s rules, will not be deemed to be part of or incorporated by reference by any general statement incorporating by reference this proxy statement into any filing under the Securities Act, or under the Exchange Act, except to the extent that we specifically incorporate this information by reference, and will not otherwise be deemed “soliciting material” or “filed” under either the Securities Act or the Exchange Act.

 

 

20

 

PROPOSAL NO. 3

 

APPROVAL ON A NON-BINDING ADVISORY BASIS OF THE COMPENSATION OF OUR NAMED EXECUTIVE OFFICERS

 

In accordance with Section 14A of the Exchange Act, we are asking our stockholders to approve the following non-binding, advisory resolution on our named executive officer compensation as disclosed in this Proxy Statement:

 

RESOLVED, the compensation of the Companys named executive officers as disclosed in this Proxy Statement pursuant to Item 402 of Regulation S-K, including the various compensation tables and the accompanying narrative discussion, is hereby APPROVED.

 

Stockholders are urged to read the Executive Compensation section of this Proxy Statement, including the Summary Compensation Table and related compensation tables and narrative in this Proxy Statement, which provide detailed information on the Company's compensation policies and practices and the compensation of our named executive officers.

 

We currently hold an advisory, non-binding vote to approve our executive compensation annually. Although the vote is an advisory, non-binding vote, the Board and the Compensation Committee value the opinions of our stockholders and will take into account the outcome of the vote when considering future compensation decisions affecting the Company’s named executive officers.

 

THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS UNANIMOUSLY RECOMMENDS A VOTE FOR THE APPROVAL, ON AN ADVISORY, NON-BINDING BASIS, OF THE COMPENSATION OF OUR NAMED EXECUTIVE OFFICERS AS DISCLOSED IN THIS PROXY STATEMENT PURSUANT TO THE SECS COMPENSATION DISCLOSURE RULES.

 

21

 

PROPOSAL NO. 4

 

APPROVAL OF THE AMENDMENT OF THE AVINGER, INC. 2015 EQUITY INCENTIVE PLAN

 

Our board of directors believes that our future success depends on our ability to attract and retain talented employees and that the ability to grant equity awards is a necessary and powerful recruiting and retention tool for our company. The board of directors believes that equity awards motivate high levels of performance, more closely align the interests of employees and stockholders by giving employees an opportunity to hold an ownership stake in our company, and provide an effective means of recognizing employee contributions to the success of the company. Our board of directors has approved an increase of an additional 300,000 shares for issuance under the 2015 Equity Incentive Plan, which we refer to as the 2015 Plan, and we are asking our stockholders to approve this increase. The proposed amendment also eliminates certain obsolete provisions to reflect changes that were made to Section 162(m) of the Internal Revenue Code under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Other than the foregoing changes, the 2015 Plan has not been amended in any material way.

 

Reasons for Voting for the Proposal

 

For the following principal reasons, the Company requests that the stockholders approve the amendment to the 2015 Plan and increase the available shares by an additional 300,000 shares to a total of 450,486 shares:

 

 

Substantially all of our outstanding stock options have exercise prices significantly higher than the market price of our common stock, and therefore do not currently serve as an effective employee incentive compensation tool.

 

 

We believe that our employees and consultants are the most valuable assets and that the approval of the amendment to the 2015 Plan is crucial to the Company’s future success.

 

 

We depend heavily on equity incentive awards to attract and retain top-caliber employees and consultants. The ability to grant equity awards is a necessary and powerful recruiting and retention tool for the Company to hire and motivate the quality personnel and consultants it needs to drive the Company’s long-term growth and financial success.

 

 

We believe that equity awards are a vital component of our employee and consultant compensation programs, since they allow us to compensate employees and consultants based on Company performance, while at the same time, provide an incentive to build long-term stockholder value.

 

 

If we do not have a sufficient number of shares available to grant under our 2015 Plan, we may need to instead offer material cash-based incentive to compete for talent, which could impact our quarterly results of operations, balance sheet and may make the Company less competitive compared to other medical device technology companies and the Company’s peer companies in hiring and retaining top talent.

 

In consideration of the above factors, the Board determined that the Company should seek stockholder approval for a 300,000 share replenishment of the 2015 Plan, to cover anticipated employee incentive program needs for the balance of 2023.

 

As of September 30, 2023, there were 15 shares of common stock subject to outstanding option awards and approximately 90,190 restricted stock awards under the 2015 Plan. There were also approximately 24,843 shares of common stock available for issuance pursuant to future awards. The weighted-average exercise price of outstanding stock option awards is $290,404.50. If this Proposal No. 4 is approved by our stockholders, an additional 300,000 shares will be authorized for issuance under the 2015 Plan, for a total of 450,486 shares authorized for issuance under the 2015 Plan, which would provide us with approximately 324,843 shares available for grant (based on the proposed 300,000 share increase plus the number of shares available for grant under the 2015 Plan as of September 30 2023).

 

22

 

As described in further detail below under the heading “Executive Compensation – Retention Bonuses,” beginning on page 40, certain of our executive officers and vice presidents, including our named executive officers, are eligible to receive Retention Bonus Payments. Under the terms of such Retention Bonus Payments, we may, at our election, satisfy such payments in cash or shares of common stock, issued pursuant to the 2015 Plan. We currently estimate that the total amount of such Retention Bonus Payments for the December 31, 2023 payment will be approximately $920,000. We may use a significant portion of the proposed 300,000 share increase to issue shares in satisfaction of all or a portion of the Retention Bonus Payments. We believe that the use of shares under the 2015 Plan to satisfy all or a portion of the Retention Bonus Payments, if we determine to do so, would enable us to preserve cash for other purposes to support our business, including working capital and general corporate purposes. Based on the closing price of our common stock on November 17, 2023, if the entire amount of the Retention Bonus Payment were satisfied using shares issued under our 2015 Plan, we would be required to issue an aggregate of approximately 286,000 shares to eligible employees, including an aggregate of approximately 116,000 shares to our named executive officers. We have not determined whether to satisfy all or any portion of the Retention Bonus Payments in shares of common stock. Such determination would be made by our board of directors after considering all relevant factors, including, but not limited to, the number of shares available for issuance under the 2015 Plan, anticipated usage of shares under the 2015 Plan for the next twelve months, and the cash we have available to make the Retention Bonus Payments at the time they are due.

 

We anticipate the proposed 300,000 share increase will provide us with a pool of shares we expect will last for approximately (12) twelve months. A change in business conditions, our business strategy or equity market performance could alter this projection. If this proposal is approved, we intend to register the additional shares available for grant under the 2015 Plan on Form S-8 prior to making awards of such additional shares.

 

As of September 30, 2023, there were 1,370,118 total shares of common stock outstanding (including 90,190 unvested restricted stock awards); 60,876 shares of Series A Preferred Stock outstanding that are convertible into 10,146 shares of common stock; 85 shares of Series B Preferred Stock outstanding that are convertible into 14,790 shares of common stock; 1,920 shares of Series E Preferred Stock outstanding that are convertible into 178,560 shares of common stock; warrants to purchase 5,896 shares of common stock with an exercise price of $6,000.00 per share issued in our February 2018 offering; warrants to purchase 2,923 shares of common stock with an exercise price of $1,200.00 per share issued in our November 2018 offering; warrants to purchase 53,833 shares of common stock with an exercise price of $144.00 per share issued in our January 2022 offering; warrants to purchase 4,433 shares of common stock with an exercise price of $150.00 per share issued in our January 2022 offering; Series A preferred investment options to purchase 190,259 shares of common stock with an exercise price of $22.53 per share issued in our August 2022 offering; Series B preferred investment options to purchase 190,253 shares of common stock with an exercise price of $22.53 per share issued in our August 2022 offering; preferred investment options to purchase 11,416 shares of common stock with an exercise price of $32.85 per share issued to the placement agent in our August 2022 offering. If all preferred stock currently issued and outstanding were to be converted to common stock and all issued and outstanding warrants and preferred investment options were to be exercised, there would be 2,032,648 shares of common stock outstanding. We anticipate a burn rate of approximately 300,000 shares pursuant to equity awards in the aggregate over the twelve months following the Annual Meeting. The final determination of the number of shares granted under the 2015 Plan will be determined by the compensation committee and the burn rate may be greater or less than this amount. We believe this estimated burn rate is reasonable and necessary to provide a predictable amount of equity for attracting, retaining, and motivating employees and other service providers. In recommending to our shareholders the increase in the number of shares to be authorized under the 2015 Plan, the compensation committee considered our burn rate for the past three fiscal years as shown below:

 

Annual Equity Usage

 

2020

   

2021

   

2022

   

3-Year Average

 

Options and Performance Options

    -       -       -       -  

RSUs and RSAs

    158       300       -       153  

Gross Grants

    158       300       -       153  

Weighted Average Shares Outstanding

    164,102       314,824       416,581       298,502  

Gross Usage (% of Outstanding)(1)

    0.10 %     0.10 %     0.00 %     0.05 %

 

(1)

Calculated as gross grants divided by weighted-average shares outstanding, both as listed in the table.

 

23

 

The following table provides aggregated information regarding the overhang and dilution associated with the 2015 Plan and the potential stockholder dilution that would result if our proposed share increase is approved.

 

Fully-Diluted Overhang Calculation

 

As of 9/30/2023

   

As of 9/30/2023,

Giving Effect to

Additional Share

Reserve

 

Shares Outstanding

    1,279,928       1,279,928  

Potential Dilution:

               

Shares Issuable under Outstanding Equity Awards (1)

    90,205       90,205  

Shares Available for Future Awards under 2015 Plan

    24,843       24,843  

Shares Issuable upon Conversion of Preferred Stock

    203,496       203,496  

Shares Issuable upon Exercise of Warrants

    459,019       459,019  

Additional Share Reserve under Proposed Amendments

    -       300,000  

Fully-Diluted Shares Outstanding

    2,057,491       2,357,491  

Potentially Dilutive Shares from the 2015 Plan

    115,048       415,048  

Fully-Diluted Overhang (2)

    5.6 %     17.6 %

 

(1) Consists of 15 options and 90,190 restricted stock awards. Outstanding restricted stock awards have full voting rights.

(2) Calculated as potentially dilutive shares from the 2015 Plan divided by fully-diluted shares outstanding, both as listed in the table.

 

If the amendment of the 2015 Plan is not approved by our stockholders, the 2015 Plan will remain in effect and awards will continue to be made under the 2015 Plan to the extent any shares remain available. However, we may not be able to continue our equity incentive program in an amount sufficient to provide competitive equity compensation. This could preclude us from successfully attracting and retaining highly skilled employees. The board of directors believes that the 2015 Plan, as amended, will be sufficient to achieve our recruiting, retention and incentive goals for the next twelve months and will be essential to our future success.

 

You should be aware that the issuance of additional shares of common stock under the 2015 Plan will have a dilutive effect on our existing stockholders. We manage our long-term stockholder dilution by limiting the number of equity awards granted annually. The compensation committee carefully monitors our total dilution and equity expense to ensure that we maximize stockholder value by granting only the appropriate number of equity awards necessary to attract, reward and retain our talented employees.

 

Our executive officers and directors have an interest in the approval of the amended and restated 2015 Plan by our stockholders because they are eligible to receive awards under the 2015 Plan.

 

Description of the 2015 Plan

 

The following paragraphs provide a summary of the principal features of the 2015 Plan and its operation, as amended by the proposed amendment. However, this summary is not a complete description of all of the provisions of the 2015 Plan and is qualified in its entirety by the specific language of the 2015 Plan. A copy of the 2015 Plan, as it is proposed to be amended, is provided as Appendix A to this proxy statement.

 

Purposes. The purposes of the 2015 Plan are to attract and retain the best available personnel for positions of substantial responsibility; to provide additional incentive to employees, directors, and consultants; and to promote the success of our business. These incentives will be provided through the grant of stock options, stock appreciation rights, RSAs, RSUs, performance units, and performance shares as the administrator of the 2015 Plan may determine.

 

24

 

Authorized Shares. Subject to the adjustment provisions contained in the 2015 Plan, assuming this Proposal No. 4 is approved by our stockholders, the maximum number of shares that may be issued pursuant to awards under the 2015 Plan would equal approximately 450,486.

 

The shares reserved for issuance under the plan may be authorized, but unissued, or reacquired shares. If an option or stock appreciation right expires or becomes unexercisable without having been exercised in full, or if shares subject to other types of awards are forfeited to or repurchased by us due to failure to vest, those shares will become available for issuance again under the 2015 Plan. Shares used to pay the exercise or purchase price of an award and shares used to satisfy the tax withholding obligations related to an award will become available for future grant under the 2015 Plan. With respect to stock appreciation rights settled in common stock, the net number of shares exercised under the stock appreciation right award will cease to be available under the 2015 Plan. In addition, to the extent that we pay out an award in cash rather than common stock, such cash payment will not reduce the number of shares available for issuance under the 2015 Plan.

 

Plan Administration. The board of directors or a committee appointed by the board of directors administers the 2015 Plan. With respect to awards granted or to be granted to certain officers and key employees intended to be an exempt transaction under Rule 16b-3 of the Exchange Act, or Rule 16b-3, the members of the committee administering the 2015 Plan with respect to those awards must qualify as “non-employee directors” under Rule 16b-3 and only such non-employee directors will administer the 2015 Plan committee with respect to such awards.

 

Subject to the provisions of the 2015 Plan, the administrator has the power to determine the award recipients and the terms of the awards not inconsistent with the 2015 Plan, including the exercise price, the number of shares subject to each such award, the exercisability of the awards, and the form of consideration, if any, payable by an option holder upon exercise. The administrator has the authority to amend existing awards, to determine fair market value of shares, to construe and interpret the 2015 Plan and awards granted under the 2015 Plan, to implement an exchange program, to establish rules and regulations, including sub-plans for the purpose of satisfying, or qualifying for favorable tax treatment under, applicable laws in jurisdictions outside of the U.S., and to make all other determinations necessary or advisable for administering the 2015 Plan. The administrator’s decisions and interpretations are final and binding on all participants and any other holders of awards, and are given the maximum deference permitted by law.

 

Eligibility. The 2015 Plan permits the grant of stock options, stock appreciation rights, RSAs, RSUs, performance units, and performance shares to our employees, consultants, and non-employee directors and employees and consultants of our parent or subsidiary corporations. We are able to grant incentive stock options under the 2015 Plan only to individuals who, as of the time of grant, are employees of ours or of any parent or subsidiary corporation of ours. As of September 30, 2023, there were 72 individuals eligible to participate in the 2015 Plan, including three non-employee directors, one consultant, and 68 employees (including three named executive officers).

 

Stock Options. Each option granted under the 2015 Plan will be evidenced by an award agreement that specifies the exercise price, the number of shares of common stock subject to the option, vesting provisions, the maximum term of the option, forms of consideration for exercise, and such other terms and conditions as the administrator determines, subject to the terms of the 2015 Plan. The exercise price of options granted under the 2015 Plan must be at least equal to the fair market value of our common stock on the date of grant, except in special, limited circumstances as set forth in the 2015 Plan.

 

Stock Appreciation Rights. Stock appreciation rights allow the recipient to receive the appreciation in the fair market value of the underlying shares between the exercise date and the date of grant. Each stock appreciation right will be evidenced by an award agreement that specifies the base price, the term of the stock appreciation right, and other terms and conditions as determined by the administrator, subject to the terms of the 2015 Plan. The per share exercise price of a stock appreciation right will be no less than 100% of the fair market value per share of common stock on the date of grant. Stock appreciation rights will be exercisable at such times and under such conditions as determined by the administrator and set forth in the applicable award agreement. At the discretion of the administrator, the payment upon exercise of a stock appreciation right may be paid in cash, shares of common stock, or a combination of both.

 

25

 

Restricted Stock. RSAs are grants of shares that are subject to various restrictions, which may include restrictions on transferability and forfeiture provisions. Each RSA granted will be evidenced by an award agreement specifying the number of shares of common stock subject to the award, any period of restriction, and other terms and conditions of the award, as determined by the administrator, subject to the terms of the 2015 Plan.

 

RSAs may (but are not required to) be subject to vesting conditions, as the administrator specifies, and the shares of common stock acquired may not be transferred by the participant until the vesting conditions (if any) are satisfied. The administrator, in its sole discretion, may accelerate the time at which any restrictions will lapse or be removed. Recipients of RSAs generally will have full voting rights, and rights to dividends and other distributions, with respect to such shares upon grant without regard to vesting, unless the administrator provides otherwise. Such dividends and other distributions, if any, that are paid in shares of stock will be subject to the same restrictions of transferability and forfeitability as the shares of restricted stock on which they were paid.

 

Restricted Stock Units. Each restricted stock unit, or RSU, granted under the 2015 Plan is a bookkeeping entry representing an amount equal to the fair market value of one share on the date of grant. Each RSU award will be evidenced by an award agreement that specifies the number of RSUs subject to the award, vesting criteria (which may include accomplishing specified performance criteria or continued service to us), form of payout, and other terms and conditions of the award, as determined by the administrator, subject to the terms of the 2015 Plan. RSUs result in a payment to a participant if the performance goals or other vesting criteria are achieved or the awards otherwise vest. The administrator, in its sole discretion, may reduce or waive any vesting criteria that must be met to receive a payout. The administrator determines in its sole discretion whether an award will be settled in cash, shares of common stock, or a combination of both.

 

Performance Units and Performance Shares. Performance units and performance shares are awards that will result in a payment to a participant only if performance goals or other vesting criteria established by the administrator are achieved or the awards otherwise vest. Each award of performance units or performance shares will be evidenced by an award agreement specifying the number of units or shares (as applicable), the vesting conditions, the performance period, and other terms and conditions of the award, as determined by the administrator, subject to the terms and conditions of the 2015 Plan. On or before the date of grant, the administrator will establish an initial dollar value for each performance unit. Each performance share will have an initial value equal to the fair market value of a share of our common stock on the date of grant. The administrator in its discretion will establish performance goals or other vesting criteria (which may include continued service), which, depending on the extent to which they are met, will determine the value or number of performance units or performance shares to be paid out. After the grant of performance units or performance shares, the administrator, in its sole discretion, may reduce or waive any performance objectives or other vesting provisions for such performance units or performance shares. The administrator, in its sole discretion, may pay earned performance units or performance shares in the form of cash, shares of common stock, or in some combination of both.

 

Non-Transferability of Awards. Unless the administrator provides otherwise, the 2015 Plan generally will not allow for the transfer of awards, and only the recipient of an award may exercise an award during his or her lifetime.

 

Certain Adjustments. In the event of any dividend or other distribution (whether in the form of cash, shares, other securities or other property), recapitalization, stock split, reverse stock split, reorganization, merger, consolidation, split-up, spin-off, combination, repurchase, or exchange of our common stock or our other securities, or other change in our corporate structure affecting our common stock, then in order to prevent diminution or enlargement of the benefits or potential benefits intended to be made available under the 2015 Plan, the administrator will adjust the number and class of shares that may be delivered under the 2015 Plan and/or the number, class and price of shares covered by each outstanding award, and the numerical share limits set forth in the 2015 Plan. In the event of our proposed liquidation or dissolution, the administrator will notify participants as soon as practicable and all awards will terminate immediately prior to the completion of such proposed transaction.

 

26

 

Change in Control. The 2015 Plan provides that in the event of our change in control, as defined in the 2015 Plan, each outstanding award will be treated as the administrator determines, in accordance with the following: the assumption or substitution of the award by the acquirer or successor corporation or its parent or subsidiary, termination of the award upon or immediately prior to the consummation of the merger or change in control following written notice, termination of the award in exchange for an amount of cash and/or property in an amount that would have been attained upon exercise or realization of the award as of the date of the merger or change in control, replacement of the award with other rights or property, or any combination of the above. The administrator will not be required to treat all awards, all awards held by a participant, or all awards of the same type, similarly. If outstanding awards (or a portion of the awards) are not assumed or substituted for, the awards will fully vest and become exercisable and all restrictions will lapse, except that with respect to awards subject to performance-based vesting, performance criteria will be deemed achieved at one hundred percent (100%) of target levels and all other terms and conditions met. In addition, if an option or stock appreciation right is not assumed or substituted in the event of a merger or change in control, the administrator will notify the participant that such award will be exercisable for a specified period prior to the transaction, and such award will terminate upon the expiration of such period.

 

Plan Amendment; Termination. The administrator has the authority to amend, alter, suspend, or terminate the 2015 Plan at any time, provided such action does not impair the existing rights of any participant unless mutually agreed in writing. The 2015 Plan will terminate automatically in January 2025, unless we terminate it sooner.

 

Historical 2015 Plan Benefits

 

The number of awards, and shares subject thereunder, that an employee, director, or consultant may receive under the 2015 Plan is in the discretion of the administrator and therefore cannot be determined in advance. The following table shows, for each of the individuals and the various groups indicated, the number of shares of the Company’s common stock underlying awards that have been granted (even if not currently outstanding) under the 2015 Plan since its approval by the stockholders of the Company in January 2015 through November 15, 2023.

 

Name of Individual or Identity of Group and Principal Position

 

Number of

RSUs

Granted

(#)

   

Number

of Options

Granted

(#)

   

Number

of RSAs

Granted

(#)

 

Jeffrey M. Soinski

President, Chief Executive Officer and Director

    416       -       16,666  

Himanshu Patel

Chief Technology Officer

    266       -       10,000  

Nabeel Subainati

Principal Financial Officer and Principal Accounting Officer

    83       -       5,666  

All executive officers as a group

    765       -       32,332  

All directors who are not executive officers as a group

    764       10       12,195  

Each nominee for election as a director

                       

James B. McElwee

    232       -       4,065  

Each associate of any of such directors, executive officers or nominees

    -       -       -  

Each other person who received or is to receive 5 percent of such awards

    -       -       -  

All employees (excluding executive officers) as a group

    2,188       -       55,662  

 

27

 

Equity Compensation Plan Information

 

All of our equity compensation plans have been approved by our stockholders. The following table provides information as of December 31, 2022, with respect to the shares of our common stock that may be issued under our existing equity compensation plans. All share and per share data reflect the impact of the reverse stock split effective September 12, 2023. 

 

 

Plan Category

 

(a) Number of

Securities to be

Issued Upon

Exercise of

Outstanding

Options,

Restricted

Stock Units and

Rights

   

(b) Weighted

Average Exercise

Price of

Outstanding

Options,

Restricted

Stock Units and

Rights (2)

   

(c) Number of

Securities

Remaining

Available for

Future Issuance

Under Equity

Compensation

Plans (Excluding

Securities

Reflected in

Column (a))

 

Equity compensation plans approved by stockholders (1)

    42     $ 183,340.00       117,304  

 


(1)

Includes the following plans: our 2009 Stock Plan and our 2015 Plan.   

(2)

The weighted average exercise price does not take into account outstanding restricted stock, RSAs, or RSUs, which have no exercise price.

 

Market Value

 

The closing price of our common stock on The Nasdaq Capital market on November 15, 2023 was $3.42 per share.

 

Certain U.S. Federal Income Tax Consequences

 

The following paragraphs are intended as a summary of certain U.S. federal income tax consequences to U.S. taxpayers and the company with respect to the grant and vesting or exercise of awards under the 2015 Plan. This summary does not attempt to describe all possible federal or other tax consequences of such actions or based on particular circumstances. In addition, it does not describe any state, local or non-U.S. tax consequences.

 

Incentive Stock Options. A participant recognizes no taxable income as the result of the grant or exercise of an incentive stock option qualifying under Section 422 of the Code (unless the participant is subject to the alternative minimum tax). If the participant exercises the option and then later sells or otherwise disposes of the shares acquired through the exercise of the option after both the two-year anniversary of the grant date and the one-year anniversary of the exercise date, the difference between the sale price and the exercise price will be taxed as capital gain or loss. If the participant exercises the option and then later sells or otherwise disposes of the shares on or before the two- or one-year anniversaries described above (a “disqualifying disposition”), he or she generally will have ordinary income at the time of the sale equal to the fair market value of the shares on the exercise date (or the sale price, if less) minus the exercise price of the option.

 

Nonstatutory Stock Options. A participant generally recognizes no taxable income on the date of grant of a nonstatutory stock option with an exercise price equal to the fair market value of the underlying stock on the date of grant. Upon the exercise of a nonstatutory stock option, the participant generally will recognize ordinary income equal to the excess of the fair market value of the shares on the exercise date over the exercise price of the option. If the participant is an employee, such ordinary income generally is subject to withholding of income and employment taxes. Upon the sale of shares acquired through the exercise of a nonstatutory stock option, any subsequent gain or loss (generally based on the difference between the sale price and the fair market value on the exercise date) will be treated as long-term or short-term capital gain or loss, depending on how long the shares were held by the participant.

 

28

 

Stock Appreciation Rights. A participant generally recognizes no taxable income on the date of grant of a stock appreciation right with an exercise price equal to the fair market value of the underlying stock on the date of grant. Upon exercise of the stock appreciation right, the participant generally will be required to include as ordinary income an amount equal to the sum of the amount of any cash received and the fair market value of any shares received upon the exercise. If the participant is an employee, such ordinary income generally is subject to withholding of income and employment taxes. Upon the sale of shares acquired by an exercise of the stock appreciation right, any gain or loss (generally based on the difference between the sale price and the fair market value on the exercise date) will be treated as long-term or short-term capital gain or loss, depending on how long the shares were held by the participant.

 

Restricted Stock, Restricted Stock Units, Performance Units and Performance Shares. A participant generally will not have taxable income at the time an award of RSAs, RSUs, performance shares, or performance units is granted. Instead, he or she generally will recognize ordinary income in the first taxable year in which his or her interest in the shares underlying the award becomes either (i) freely transferable, or (ii) no longer subject to substantial risk of forfeiture. If the participant is an employee, such ordinary income generally is subject to withholding of income and employment taxes. However, the recipient of a restricted stock award may elect to recognize income at the time he or she receives the award in an amount equal to the fair market value of the shares underlying the award (less any cash paid for the shares) on the date the award is granted.

 

Section 409A. Section 409A of the Code, or Section 409A, provides certain requirements for non-qualified deferred compensation arrangements with respect to an individual’s deferral and distribution elections and permissible distribution events. Awards granted under the 2015 Plan with a deferral feature will be subject to the requirements of Section 409A. If an award is subject to and fails to satisfy the requirements of Section 409A, the recipient of that award may recognize ordinary income on the amounts deferred under the award, to the extent vested, which may be prior to when the compensation is actually or constructively received. Also, if an award that is subject to Section 409A fails to comply with Section 409A’s provisions, Section 409A imposes an additional 20% tax on compensation recognized as ordinary income, as well as interest on such deferred compensation.

 

Medicare Surtax. In addition, a participant’s annual “net investment income”, as defined in Section 1411 of the Code, may be subject to a 3.8% federal surtax. Net investment income may include capital gain and/or loss arising from the disposition of shares issued pursuant to awards granted under the 2015 Plan. Whether a participant’s net investment income will be subject to this surtax will depend on the participant’s level of annual income and other factors.

 

Tax Effect for the Company. We generally will be entitled to a tax deduction in connection with an award under the 2015 Plan in an amount equal to the ordinary income realized by a participant and at the time the participant recognizes such income (for example, the exercise of a nonqualified stock option). However, special rules limit the deductibility of compensation paid to our CEO, CFO and other “covered employees” as determined under Section 162(m) and applicable guidance. Under Section 162(m), the annual compensation paid to any of these specified individuals will be deductible only to the extent that it does not exceed $1,000,000. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 eliminated an exception to the deduction limit for qualified performance-based compensation and broadened the application of the deduction limit to certain current and former executive officers who previously were exempt from such limit.

 

Vote Required

 

Approval of the amendment of the 2015 Plan requires the affirmative vote of a majority of the shares of our common stock present in person or by proxy at the Annual Meeting and entitled to vote thereon. Abstentions are considered votes present and entitled to vote on this proposal, and thus, will have the same effect as a vote “against” the proposal. Broker non-votes will have no effect on the outcome of this proposal. If a proxy card is signed and returned but no direction is made, the persons named in your proxy will vote your shares “FOR” this proposal.

 

THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS UNANIMOUSLY RECOMMENDS A VOTE FOR THE AMENDMENT OF THE 2015 PLAN.

 

29

 

PROPOSAL NO. 5

 

ADJOURNMENT OF THE ANNUAL MEETING, IF NECESSARY, TO CONTINUE TO SOLICIT VOTES IN FAVOR OF THE FOREGOING PROPOSALS

 

Overview

 

In order to ensure that approval of the foregoing proposals is obtained, the Board wishes to seek approval of a proposal to adjourn the Annual Meeting, if necessary, to solicit more votes in favor of the foregoing proposals.

 

Vote Required

 

The approval of the adjournment of the Annual Meeting, if necessary, to continue to solicit votes in favor of the foregoing proposals requires the affirmative vote of a majority of the shares of our common stock present in person or by proxy at the Annual Meeting and entitled to vote thereon to be approved. Abstentions are considered votes present and entitled to vote on this proposal, and thus, will have the same effect as a vote “against” the proposal. Because this proposal is considered a “routine” matter under applicable stock exchange rules, we do not expect to receive any broker non-votes on this proposal. If a proxy card is signed and returned but no direction is made, the persons named in your proxy will vote your shares “FOR” this proposal.

 

THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS RECOMMENDS THAT YOU VOTE FOR THE ADJOURNMENT OF THE ANNUAL MEETING, IF NECESSARY, TO CONTINUE TO SOLICIT VOTES IN FAVOR OF THE FOREGOING PROPOSALS.

 

30

 

PROPOSAL NO. 6

 

STOCKHOLDER PROPOSAL TO PURSUE A MERGER OR ACQUISITION (M&A) OF THE COMPANY TO A LARGER AND MORE COMPETITIVE COMPANY IN BIO-TECH INDUSTRY WITH THE ASSISTANCE OF A PROFESSIONAL BROKER EXPERIENCED IN M&A WITHIN THE SAME BIO-SECTOR

 

We expect the following proposal (Item 6 on the proxy card) to be presented by the stockholder(s) at the Annual Meeting. The company is not responsible for any inaccuracies this shareholder proposal may contain.

 

We will promptly provide our stockholders with the name, address and, to our knowledge, the number of voting securities held by the proponent of this stockholder proposal, upon receiving a written request sent to us by one of the following ways: (i) via mail directed to Avinger, Inc., 400 Chesapeake Drive, Redwood City, CA 94063, Attention: Investor Relations or (ii) via email only delivered to corpsecretary@avinger.com.

 

Stockholder Proposal

 

I am a long term shareholder of Avinger Inc. (the Company) and pleased the company has finally completed the first and only image-guided product portfolios for the treatment of Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD). As a shareholder, I have funded these developments but at the same time, have lost almost all my investment as the Company continues to dilute despite no increase in revenue. As a result, the company is now non-compliant with NASDAQ listing requirement of minimum shareholder equity.

 

I understand that the Company is working on extending the portfolio to Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) but to fund this, it will further dilute existing shares and all common shareholders’ investment. Unfortunately, the overall bio-tech capital market is not favorable, while the Company continues to run out of capital and the debt burden increases to the point of being overwhelming. The only way the Company has been able to address these financial shortcomings is through repetitive reverse equity splits, where all shareholders equity in the company is destroyed.

 

At this time, to avoid further common shareholder destruction, I believe that the greatest value to the shareholders will be realized through a merger or sale of the Company. The Board should immediately seek out opportunities to merge into a larger and more competitive company or find an opportunity for shareholders to sell their stock to a larger and more competitive company in bio-tech industry and negotiate an additional amount per share if certain coronary CAD milestones are met. A vote for the following shareholder proposal under Rule 14a-8 would benefit all shareholders.

 

The Proposal:

 

“Immediately pursue a merger or acquisition (M&A) of the Company to a larger and more competitive company in bio-tech industry with the assistance of a professional broker experienced in M&A within the same bio-sector

 

End of Stockholder Proposal and Statement of Support

 

Avinger Board Opposing Statement

 

Our board of directors has considered the stockholder proposal and, for the reasons described below, believes that the proposal is not in the best interests of the Company and its stockholders.

 

31

 

Our board of directors regularly considers (i) our business, operations and financial condition, (ii) the current state of our industry and financial markets generally, (iii) potential strategic growth opportunities, and (iv) other potential strategic alternatives. Management meets regularly with various investment banks to evaluate potential opportunities for strategic transactions, and discusses these efforts with our board of directors. Based on these discussions, our board of directors has determined that given our current stage and condition, such opportunities are not available on terms that would be in the best interests of the Company’s stockholders. In addition, over the last several years, the Company has also had discussions with specific third parties regarding opportunities for a combination of the Company with such third party. While our board of directors and management actively pursued such transactions, they were not consummated, for a variety of reasons. Therefore, our board of directors believes that we have already addressed the essential objectives of the stockholder proposal. Specifically, we have and continue to actively engage with advisors to explore potential mergers and acquisitions by evaluating market conditions, our operations and financial condition, and analyzing the anticipated effect on stockholder value of various opportunities. As opportunities for strategic transactions have arisen, our board of directors has pursued them appropriately, with the advice of appropriate advisors, and we anticipate that our board of directors will continue to evaluate appropriate opportunities as they arise in the future and consider whether they are best for our stockholders.

 

For the foregoing reasons, the Board unanimously believes that this stockholder proposal is not in the best interests of Company or its stockholders, and recommends that you vote “AGAINST” Proposal No. 6.

 

Vote Required

 

Approval of the stockholder proposal requires the affirmative vote of a majority of the shares of our common stock present in person or by proxy at the Annual Meeting and entitled to vote thereon. Abstentions are considered votes present and entitled to vote on this proposal, and thus, will have the same effect as a vote “against” the proposal. Broker non-votes will have no effect on the outcome of this proposal. If a proxy card is signed and returned but no direction is made, the persons named in your proxy will vote your shares “AGAINST” this proposal.

 

THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS UNANIMOUSLY RECOMMENDS A VOTE AGAINST THE STOCKHOLDER PROPOSAL.

 

32

 

EXECUTIVE OFFICERS

 

The following table identifies certain information about our executive officers as of March 1, 2023.  Our executive officers are appointed by, and serve at the discretion of, our board of directors.  Each of our executive officers serves at the discretion of our board of directors and holds office until his successor is duly elected and qualified or until his earlier resignation or removal.  There are no family relationships among any of our directors or executive officers.

 

Name

 

Age

 

Title

Jeffrey M. Soinski

 

61

 

President, Chief Executive Officer and Director

Himanshu N. Patel

 

64

 

Chief Technology Officer

Nabeel Subainati

 

40

 

Vice President, Finance, Principal Financial Officer and Principal Accounting Officer

 

 

For a brief biography of Mr. Soinski, please see the section of this Proxy Statement titled “Continuing Directors.”

 

Himanshu N. Patel. co-founded Avinger in 2007 and has served as our Chief Technology Officer from January 2011 to November 2011 and then since October 2013. From September 1999 to February 2007, Mr. Patel held various research and development positions, including Director of Advanced Technologies, at FoxHollow Technologies. Mr. Patel previously held research and development positions at EndoTex Interventional Systems, General Surgical Innovations and Ethicon, a Johnson and Johnson company. Mr. Patel holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from M.S. University of Baroda, India, and an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida.

 

Nabeel Subainati has served in multiple capacities since January 2020. Currently Mr. Subainati is serving as the Company’s Vice President, Finance, formerly Mr. Subainati held the position of Vice President, Corporate Controller. He was appointed to serve as our Principal Financial Officer and Principal Accounting Officer effective as of July 21, 2022. Prior to joining the Company, Mr. Subainati served as Controller at Crossbar, Inc., a semiconductor memory technology provider from July 2018 until January 2020. Mr. Subainati previously served as Corporate Controller of Sigma Designs, Inc. a Nasdaq-listed integrated system-on-chip solutions provider for home and industrial applications, from May 2014 until its acquisition by Silicon Labs, Inc. in June 2018. Earlier in his career Mr. Subainati worked at Ernst & Young and Deloitte. He received a B.S. in business administration with an accounting major from Santa Clara University. He earned and currently holds an active CPA designation.

 

33

 

EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION

 

Processes and Procedures for Compensation Decisions

 

Our compensation committee is responsible for the executive compensation programs for our executive officers and reports to our board of directors on its discussions, decisions and other actions.  Our compensation committee reviews and approves corporate goals and objectives relating to the compensation of our Chief Executive Officer, evaluates the performance of our Chief Executive Officer in light of those goals and objectives and determines and approves the compensation of our Chief Executive Officer based on such evaluation.  Our compensation committee has the sole authority to determine our Chief Executive Officer’s compensation.  In addition, our compensation committee, in consultation with our Chief Executive Officer, reviews and approves all compensation for other officers. Our Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer also make compensation recommendations for our other executive officers and initially propose the corporate and departmental performance objectives under our Executive Incentive Compensation Plan to the compensation committee.

 

The compensation committee is authorized to retain the services of one or more executive compensation and benefits consultants or other outside experts or advisors as it sees fit, in connection with the establishment of our compensation programs and related policies. 

 

Summary Compensation Table

 

The following table presents summary information regarding the total compensation for services rendered in all capacities that was earned by our Chief Executive Officer and our two other most highly compensated executive officers in our fiscal years ended December 31, 2022 and 2021.  The individuals listed in the table below are our named executive officers for our fiscal year ended December 31, 2022.

 

Name and Principal Position

 

Year

 

Salary

($)

   

Bonus

($)

   

Stock

Awards

($)

   

Option

Awards

($)

   

Non-Equity

Incentive Plan

Compensation

($)(1)

   

All Other

Compensation

($)

   

Total

($)

 

Jeffrey M. Soinski

 

2022

    400,000       -       -       -       205,155       -       605,155  

President and Chief Executive Officer

 

2021

    400,000       -       -       -       194,824       -       594,824  

Himanshu Patel

 

2022

    300,000       -       -       -       123,093       -       423,093  

Chief Technology Officer

 

2021

    300,000       -       -       -       116,047       -       416,047  

Nabeel P. Subainati

 

2022

    247,500       -       -       -       48,349       -       295,849  

Principal Financial and Accounting Officer

 

2021

    197,500       -       -       -       25,253       -       222,753  

 


(1)

Non-equity incentive plan compensation includes cash awards granted at the discretion of the Compensation Committee under our Executive Incentive Compensation Plan for achieving certain performance-based criteria.

 

Executive Employment Letters

 

Jeffrey M. Soinski

 

Pursuant to the employment letter, as revised on September 9, 2020, between the Company and Jeffrey M. Soinski, our President and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Soinski is entitled to receive as compensation (i) a base salary of $400,000, (ii) a discretionary bonus targeted at 75% of his base salary, subject to the achievement of certain goals mutually agreed upon by him and our board of directors and payable semi-annually; and (iii) other standard benefits provided to each of the Company’s executive officers. The letter has no specific term and provides for at-will employment.

 

34

 

Pursuant to Mr. Soinski’s employment offer letter, if, within the 12-month period following a “change in control,” we terminate Mr. Soinski’s employment without “cause,” or Mr. Soinski resigns for “good reason” (as such terms are defined in Mr. Soinski’s employment offer letter), Mr. Soinski will receive accelerated vesting as to 100% of his outstanding unvested stock options.  If we experience a change in control, and Mr. Soinski remains our employee through such date, Mr. Soinski will receive accelerated vesting as to 50% of his outstanding unvested stock options and/or restricted stock.

 

If we terminate Mr. Soinski without cause at any time, he will be entitled to receive 12 months of base salary and COBRA medical and dental insurance coverage, in each case payable in substantially equal installments in accordance with our payroll practices, as severance, in exchange for signing and not revoking a severance agreement and general release against us and our affiliates within 60 days following his termination of employment. 

 

401(k) Plan

 

We maintain a tax-qualified retirement plan that provides eligible employees with an opportunity to save for retirement on a tax advantaged basis.  We may make a discretionary matching contribution to the 401(k) plan, and may make a discretionary employer contribution to each eligible employee each year.  To date, we have not made any matching or profits sharing contributions into the 401(k) plan.  All participants’ interests in our matching and profit sharing contributions, if any, vest pursuant to a four-year graded vesting schedule from the time of contribution.  Pre-tax contributions are allocated to each participant’s individual account and are then invested in selected investment alternatives according to the participants’ directions.  The 401(k) plan is intended to qualify under Sections 401(a) and 501(a) of the Code.  As a tax-qualified retirement plan, contributions to the 401(k) plan and earnings on those contributions are not taxable to the employees until distributed from the 401(k) plan, and all contributions are deductible by us when made.

 

Pension Benefits and Nonqualified Deferred Compensation

 

We do not provide a pension plan for our employees, and none of our named executive officers participated in a nonqualified deferred compensation plan in 2022.

 

35

 

Outstanding Equity Awards at Fiscal Year-End

 

The following table provides information regarding equity awards held by our named executive officers at December 31, 2022. All share and per share data reflect the impact of the reverse stock split effective September 12, 2023. 

 

       

Option Awards

   

Stock Awards

 
Name   Grant Date  

Number of

Securities

Underlying

Unexercised

Options (#)

Exercisable (3)

   

Number of

Securities

Underlying

Unexercised

Options (#)

Unexercisable

   

Option

Exercise

Price

($)(4)

   

Option

Expiration

Date

   

Number of

Shares or

Units of

Stock That

Have Not

Vested (#)

   

Market

Value of

Shares or

Units of

Stock That

Have Not

Vested

($)(5)

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

                                 

Jeffrey M. Soinski

 

12/31/2014 (1)(7)

    4             540,000    

12/31/2024

             
   

3/7/2016 (2)(7)

                1,555,200    

3/7/2026

             
   

3/13/2017 (2)(7)

                246,000    

3/13/2027

             
   

9/18/2019 (2)(8)

                                   
                                                     

Himanshu Patel

 

11/5/2013 (1)(6)

                2,430,000    

11/5/2023

             
   

12/31/2014 (1)(7)

    1             540,000    

12/31/2024

             
   

3/3/2016 (2)(7)

                1,558,800    

3/3/2026

             
   

3/13/2017 (2)(7)

                246,000    

3/13/2027

             
   

9/18/2019 (2)(8)

                                   
                                                     

Nabeel Subainati (10)

 

1/6/2020 (2)(8)

                            27       452  

 


(1)

Each of the outstanding equity awards was granted pursuant to our 2009 Stock Plan.  No additional awards may be granted under the 2009 Stock Plan, and all awards granted under the 2009 Stock Plan that are repurchased, forfeited, expired, are cancelled or otherwise not issued become available for grant under the 2015 Plan in accordance with its terms.

(2)

Each of the outstanding equity awards was granted pursuant to our 2015 Equity Incentive Plan.

(3)

All of our options granted pursuant to our 2009 Stock Plan are early exercisable subject to the Company’s right to repurchase any unvested shares.

(4)

This column represents the fair value of a share of our common stock on the date of grant, as determined by our board of directors.

(5)

This column represents the market value of the unvested shares of our common stock underlying the RSUs as of December 31, 2022, based on the closing price of our common stock, as reported on the Nasdaq Global Select Market, of $16.35 per share.

(6)

25% of the shares of our common stock subject to this option vested on October 11, 2014, and the balance vested in 36 successive equal monthly installments, subject to continued service through each such vesting date.

(7)

25% of the shares of our common stock subject to this option vested on the one year anniversary of the grant date, and the balance vests in 36 successive equal monthly installments, subject to continued service through each such vesting date.

 

36

 

(8)

33.3% of the shares of our common stock subject to this stock award vests on the one year anniversary of the grant date, and the balance vests in 2 successive equal annual installments, subject to continued service through each such vesting date.

(9)

Mr. Subainati has been designated as Principal Financial Officer and Principal Accounting Officer effective as of July 21, 2022.

 

Potential Payments upon Termination or Change of Control

 

Jeffrey M. Soinski

 

In March 2018, we entered into a change of control and severance agreement with Jeffrey M. Soinski, which was subsequently amended in March 2020. Under this agreement, as amended, if, within the 18 month period following a “change of control,” we terminate Mr. Soinski’s employment other than for “cause,” death or disability, or the employee resigns for “good reason” (as such terms are defined in the employee’s employment agreement) and, within 60 days following the employee’s termination, the employee executes an irrevocable separation agreement and release of claims, the employee is entitled to receive (i) continuing payments of severance pay at a rate equal to the employee’s monthly base salary and pro-rated target bonus, as then in effect, for a period of 12 months plus one month for every year of service completed for the Company (provided that such severance shall not exceed 18 months), (ii) reimbursement of premiums to maintain group health insurance continuation benefits pursuant to “COBRA” for employee and employee’s dependents for up to 12 months, (iii) accelerated vesting as to 100% of the employee’s outstanding unvested stock options and/or restricted stock, and (iv) the extension of the post-termination exercise period of any options held by the employee for a period of 1 year.  Additionally, if we experience a change in control, 50% of Mr. Soinski’s outstanding unvested stock options and/or restricted stock will vest. In the event of any conflict between Mr. Soinski’s change of control and severance agreement and his offer letter, described above under “Executive Employment Letters,” he will be entitled to the greater of the benefits provided by either. The agreement also provides that if the employee is employed by the Company or the Company’s successor on the date that is 12 months following a change of control, then the employee will be entitled to a lump sum bonus payment in an amount equal to what the employee would have received as a severance payment if the employee had been terminated other than for cause, death or disability.

 

Himanshu Patel

 

We previously entered into a change of control and severance agreement with Himanshu Patel, which was subsequently amended in March 2020. Under this agreement, as amended, if, within the 18 month period following a “change of control,” we terminate Mr. Patel’s employment other than for “cause,” death or disability, or the employee resigns for “good reason” (as such terms are defined in the employee’s employment agreement) and, within 60 days following the employee’s termination, the employee executes an irrevocable separation agreement and release of claims, the employee is entitled to receive (i) continuing payments of severance pay at a rate equal to the employee’s monthly base salary and pro-rated target bonus, as then in effect, for a period of 12 months plus one month for every year of service completed for the Company (provided that such severance shall not exceed 18 months), (ii) reimbursement of premiums to maintain group health insurance continuation benefits pursuant to “COBRA” for employee and employee’s dependents for up to 12 months, (iii) accelerated vesting as to 100% of the employee’s outstanding unvested stock options and/or restricted stock, and (iv) the extension of the post-termination exercise period of any options held by the employee for a period of 1 year. The agreement also provides that if the employee is employed by the Company or the Company’s successor on the date that is 12 months following a change of control, then the employee will be entitled to a lump sum bonus payment in an amount equal to what the employee would have received as a severance payment if the employee had been terminated other than for cause, death or disability.

 

37

 

Nabeel Subainati

 

We previously entered into a change in control agreement with Mr. Subainati, which we subsequently amended in March 2023. Under the agreement, as amended, we agreed that if, within the 18 month period following a “change of control,” we terminate Mr. Subainati’s employment other than for “cause” or death or disability, or if the employee resigns for “good reason” (as such terms are defined in the employee’s employment agreement) and, within 60 days following the employee’s termination, the employee executes an irrevocable separation agreement and release of claims, the employee is entitled to receive (i) continuing payments of severance pay at a rate equal to the employee’s base salary and target bonus, as then in effect, for six months plus one month for every year of service completed for the Company (provided that such severance shall not exceed 12 months), (ii) reimbursement of premiums to maintain group health insurance continuation benefits pursuant to “COBRA” for the employee and the employee’s dependents for up to six months, (iii) accelerated vesting as to 100% of the employee’s outstanding unvested stock options and/or restricted stock, and (iv) the extension of the post-termination exercise period of any options held by the employee for a period of 1 year. Additionally, if we experience a change in control, 50% of Mr. Subainati’s outstanding unvested stock options and/or restricted stock will vest. The agreement, as amended, also provides that if the employee is employed by us or our successor on the date that is 12 months following a change of control, then the employee will be entitled to a lump sum bonus payment in an amount equal to what the employee would have received as a severance payment if the employee had been terminated other than for cause, death or disability.

 

Executive Incentive Compensation Plan

 

Our board of directors has adopted an Executive Incentive Compensation Plan, or the Bonus Plan, which is administered by our compensation committee.  The Bonus Plan allows our compensation committee to provide cash incentive awards to selected employees, including our named executive officers, based upon performance goals established by our compensation committee.

 

Under the Bonus Plan, our compensation committee determines the performance goals applicable to any award, which goals may include, without limitation: attainment of research and development milestones, sales bookings, business divestitures and acquisitions, cash flow, cash position, earnings (which may include any calculation of earnings, including but not limited to earnings before interest and taxes, earnings before taxes, earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization and net earnings), earnings per share, net income, net profit, net sales, operating cash flow, operating expenses, operating income, operating margin, overhead or other expense reduction, product defect measures, product release timelines, productivity, profit, return on assets, return on capital, return on equity, return on investment, return on sales, revenue, revenue growth, sales results, sales growth, stock price, time to market, total stockholder return, working capital, and individual objectives such as peer reviews or other subjective or objective criteria.  Performance goals that include our financial results may be determined in accordance with GAAP or such financial results may consist of non-GAAP financial measures and any actual results may be adjusted by the compensation committee for one-time items or unbudgeted or unexpected items when performance goals that include our financial results may be determined in accordance with GAAP, or such financial results may consist of non-GAAP financial measures, and any actual results may be adjusted by the compensation committee for one-time items or unbudgeted or unexpected items when determining whether the performance goals have been met.  The goals may be on the basis of any factors the compensation committee determines relevant, and may be adjusted on an individual, divisional, business unit or company-wide basis.  The performance goals may differ from participant to participant and from award to award.

 

Our compensation committee may, in its sole discretion and at any time, increase, reduce or eliminate a participant’s actual award, and/or increase, reduce or eliminate the amount allocated to the bonus pool for a particular performance period.  The actual award may be below, at or above a participant’s target award, in the compensation committee’s discretion.  Our compensation committee may determine the amount of any reduction on the basis of such factors as it deems relevant, and it is not required to establish any allocation or weighting with respect to the factors it considers.

 

Actual awards are paid in cash only after they are earned, which usually requires continued employment through the date a bonus is paid.  Our compensation committee has the authority to amend, alter, suspend or terminate the Bonus Plan provided such action does not impair the existing rights of any participant with respect to any earned bonus.

 

38

 

Retention Bonuses

 

On March 9, 2021, the Compensation Committee (the “Committee”) of the Board of Directors of the Company determined to provide certain incentive payments (the “Retention Bonuses”) to certain full-time executive officers and vice presidents of the Company, including Jeffrey M. Soinski and Himanshu Patel, who serve as the Company’s Chief Executive Officer and Chief Technology Officer, respectively (the “Bonus Officers”), based on certain performance goals. On October 24, 2023, the Committee determined to provide the Retention Bonuses to Nabeel Subainati, the Company’s Vice President, Finance; provided, however, that Mr. Subainati will not be eligible to receive the Retention Bonus Payment payable with respect to his continuing employment as of December 31, 2023. The Retention Bonus consists of incentive payments in an amount equal to 100% of such Bonus Officer’s annual salary as of December 31, 2023, 50% of which will be paid if such Bonus Officer is in good standing in their service at the Company on December 31, 2023, and 50% to be paid if such Bonus Officer is in good standing in their service at the Company on December 31, 2024 (each, a “Retention Bonus Payment”). Mr. Subainati is eligible to receive only the payment due with respect to his continuing employment on December 31, 2024. The Retention Bonus Payments may be paid in cash or equity, or a combination of both, as determined by the Committee. In addition, the Retention Bonus Payments shall accelerate in the event of a Change in Control, as defined in the Company’s Amended and Restated 2015 Equity Incentive Plan, provided that the Bonus Officer remains in his or her respective position through such Change in Control. Each Retention Bonus Payment shall be increased in the event that the price of the common stock of the Company is above $900.00 (subject to adjustment for any stock splits, reverse stock splits, or similar transactions) as of the date of such Retention Bonus Payment, according to the schedule below:

 

If the stock price is between $900.00 and $1199.99 (subject to adjustment for any stock splits, reverse stock splits, or similar transactions) as of the date of the Retention Bonus Payment, such Retention Bonus Payment shall be increased by 25%;

 

If the stock price is between $1200.00 and $1499.99 (subject to adjustment for any stock splits, reverse stock splits, or similar transactions) as of the date of the Retention Bonus Payment, such Retention Bonus Payment shall be increased by 50%; and

 

If the stock price is $1500.00 or above (subject to adjustment for any stock splits, reverse stock splits, or similar transactions) as of the date of the Retention Bonus Payment, such Retention Bonus Payment shall be increased by 100%.

 

The Retention Bonuses are in addition to any other bonus to which the Bonus Officers may be entitled under the Company’s Bonus Plan.

 

39

 

SECURITY OWNERSHIP OF CERTAIN BENEFICIAL OWNERS AND MANAGEMENT

 

The following table sets forth certain information with respect to the beneficial ownership of our capital stock as of November 15, 2023 for:

 

 

each person or group of affiliated persons known by us to be the beneficial owner of more than 5% of our common stock;

 

 

each of our named executive officers;

 

 

each of our directors and nominees for director; and

 

 

all of our current executive officers and directors as a group.

 

We have determined beneficial ownership in accordance with the rules and regulations of the SEC, and the information is not necessarily indicative of beneficial ownership for any other purpose. Except as indicated by the footnotes below, we believe, based on information furnished to us, that the persons and entities named in the table below have sole voting and sole investment power with respect to all shares of our capital stock that they beneficially own, subject to applicable community property laws.

 

Applicable percentage ownership is based on 1,279,928 shares of our common stock outstanding as of November 15, 2023 . In computing the number of shares of capital stock beneficially owned by a person and the percentage ownership of such person, we deemed to be outstanding all shares of our capital stock subject to options, RSAs, or RSUs held by the person that are currently exercisable, exercisable or vests within 60 days of November 15, 2023.  However, we did not deem such shares of our capital stock outstanding for the purpose of computing the percentage ownership of any other person.

 

Unless otherwise indicated, the address of each beneficial owner listed in the table below is c/o Avinger, Inc., 400 Chesapeake Drive, Redwood City, California 94063. The information provided in the table is based on our records, information filed with the SEC and information provided to us, except where otherwise noted.

 

   

Shares Beneficially Owned

 

Name of Beneficial Owner

 

Number of

Shares

   

Percentage

 
             

Named Executive Officers and Directors (8):

               
                 

Jeffrey M. Soinski(1)

    17,142       1.3

%

Himanshu Patel(2)

    19,058       1.5

%

Nabeel Subainati(3)

    5,711       *  

James G. Cullen(4)

    4,308       *  

James B. McElwee(5)

    4,298       *  

Tamara N. Elias(6)

    4,365       *  

All executive officers, directors and director nominees as a group (6 individuals)(7)

    54,882       *  

 

*

Represents ownership of less than 1%

 

(1)

Consists of (i) 472 shares of common stock held of record by Mr. Soinski, (ii) 4 shares of common stock issuable upon exercise of options exercisable within 60 days of November 15, 2023, and (iii) 16,666 shares of common stock underlying RSAs, none of which vests within 60 days of November 15, 2023, but currently include voting rights equivalent to common stock.

 

40

 

(2)

Consists of (i) 340 shares of common stock held of record by Mr. Patel, (ii) warrants to purchase 17 shares of common stock, (iii) 1 share of common stock issuable upon exercise of options exercisable within 60 days of November 15, 2023, (iv) 8,700 shares of common stock that are issuable upon the conversion of shares of Series B preferred stock that are immediately convertible to common stock and (v) 10,000 shares of common stock underlying RSAs, none of which vest within 60 days of November 15, 2023, but that currently include voting rights equivalent to common stock.

 

(3)

Consists of (i) 45 shares of common stock held of record by Mr. Subainati and (ii) 5,666 shares of common stock underlying RSAs, none of which vest within 60 days of November 15, 2023, but that currently include voting rights equivalent to common stock.

 

(4)

Consists of (i) 233 shares of common stock held of record by 2000 James Cullen Generation Skipping Family Trust, and (ii) 10 shares of common stock issuable upon exercise of options exercisable within 60 days of November 15, 2023, and (iii) 4,065 shares of common stock underlying RSAs, none of which vest within 60 days of November 15, 2023, but that currently include voting rights equivalent to common stock. Mr. Cullen has sole voting and dispositive power with respect to shares held by James Cullen Generation Skipping Family Trust.  Mr. Cullen does not have a pecuniary interest in the James Cullen Generation Skipping Family Trust.

 

(5)

Consists of (i) 233 shares of common stock held of record by Mr. McElwee and (ii) 4,065 shares of common stock underlying RSAs, none of which vest within 60 days of November 15, 2023, but that currently include voting rights equivalent to common stock.

 

(6)

Consists of (i) 300 shares of common stock held of record by Mrs. Elias, and (ii) 4,065 shares of common stock underlying RSAs, none of which vest within 60 days of November 15, 2023, but that currently include voting rights equivalent to common stock.

 

(7)

Consists of (i) 1,623 shares of common stock, (ii) warrants to purchase 17 shares of common stock, (iii) 15 shares of common stock issuable upon exercise of options exercisable or vesting of RSUs within 60 days of November 15, 2023, (iv) 8,700 shares of common stock that are issuable upon the conversion of shares of Series B preferred stock that are immediately convertible to common stock and (v) 44,527 shares of common stock underlying RSAs, none of which vest within 60 days of November 15, 2023, but that currently include voting rights equivalent to common stock.

 

41

 

PAY VERSUS PERFORMANCE

 

The following tables and related disclosures set forth information regarding the Company’s performance and the compensation actually paid to our NEOs, as calculated in accordance with the SEC’s pay versus performance rules in Item 402(v) of Regulation S-K under the Exchange Act.

 

Pay Versus Performance Table

 

Year (1)

 

Summary

Compensation Table

Total for PEO (2)

   

Compensation

Actually Paid to

PEO (3)

   

Average Summary Compensation

Table Total for

non-PEO Named

Executive Officers

(2)

   

Average

Compensation

Actually Paid to non-

PEO Named

Executive Officers (3)

   

Value of Initial

Fixed $100

Investment Based

on Total

Shareholder

Return (4)

   

Net Income (in

thousands)

 

2022

  $ 605,155     $ 595,554     $ 359,471     $ 361,555     $ 12.33     $ (17,623 )

2021

  $ 594,824     $ 613,071     $ 415,729     $ 427,211     $ 102.27     $ (17,412 )

 

1)

Names of PEO and NEOS by Year:

 

2022 - PEO: Jeffrey M. Soinski; NEOs: Himanshu Patel, Nabeel Subainati

 

2021 - PEO: Jeffrey M. Soinski; NEOs: Himanshu Patel, Mark Weinswig

 

2)

Amounts reported in this column represent (i) the total compensation reported in the Summary Compensation Table for the applicable year for Mr. Soinski and (ii) the average of the total compensation reported in the Summary Compensation Table for the NEOs listed in footnote 1 for each applicable year.

 

3)

To calculate compensation actually paid, adjustments were made to the amounts reported in the Summary Compensation Table for the applicable year. A reconciliation of the adjustments for Mr. Soinski and for the average of the other NEOs is set forth in the table below titled “Adjustments to Calculate Compensation Actually Paid to PEO and Average Compensation Actually Paid to Other NEOs.”

 

4)

Pursuant to rules of the SEC, the comparison assumes $100 was invested on December 31, 2020 in our common stock. Historical stock price performance is not necessarily indicative of future stock price performance.

 

42

 

Adjustments to Calculate Compensation Actually Paid to CEO and Average Compensation Actually Paid to Other NEOs

 

   

2022

   

2021

 
   

PEO

   

NEOs (1)

   

PEO

   

NEOs (1)

 

Total Compensation from Summary Compensation Table Adjustments for equity awards

  $ 605, 155     $ 359,471     $ 594,824     $ 415,729  
                                 

(Deduct): Aggregate value for stock awards and option awards included in Summary Compensation Table Total for the covered fiscal year

                       
                                 

Add: Fair value at year end of awards granted during the covered fiscal year that were outstanding and unvested at the covered fiscal year end

                       
                                 

Add (Deduct): Year-over-year change in fair value at covered fiscal year end of awards granted in any prior fiscal year that were outstanding and unvested at the covered fiscal year end

          84       252       165  
                                 

Add: Vesting date fair value of awards granted and vested during the covered fiscal year

                       
                                 

Add (Deduct): Change as of the vesting date (from the end of the prior fiscal year) in fair value of awards granted in any prior fiscal year for which vesting conditions were satisfied during the covered fiscal year

    (9,601 )     2,000       17,995       11,317  
                                 

(Deduct): Fair value at end of prior fiscal year of awards granted in any prior fiscal year that failed to meet the applicable vesting conditions during the covered fiscal year

                       
                                 

Add: Dividends or other earnings paid on awards in the covered fiscal year prior to vesting if not otherwise included in the Summary Compensation Table Total for the covered fiscal year

                       
                                 

Compensation Actually Paid (as calculated)

  $ 595,554     $ 361,555     $ 613,071     $ 427,211  

 

(1)

Amounts presented are averages for the entire group of Other NEOs in each respective year.

 

43

 

Narrative Disclosure: Pay Versus Performance Table  

 

The illustrations below provide a graphical description of CAP (as calculated in accordance with the SEC rules) and the following measures:

 

 

cumulative TSR; and

 

Net Income.

 

CAP and Cumulative TSR

 

image02.jpg

 

CAP and Net Income

 

image03.jpg

 

44

 

RELATED PERSON TRANSACTIONS

 

We describe below transactions and series of similar transactions, since January 1, 2021, to which we were a party or will be a party, in which:

 

the amounts involved exceeded or will exceed the lesser of $120,000 or 1% of the average of our total assets at year end for the last two completed fiscal years; and

 

any of our directors, nominees for director, executive officers or beneficial holders of more than 5% of our outstanding common stock, or any immediate family member of, or person sharing the household with, any of these individuals or entities (each, a related person), had or will have a direct or indirect material interest.

 

We have entered into employment and separation arrangements with certain current and former executive officers. For more information on these employment and separation agreements, see the section titled “Executive Compensation - Executive Employment Letters” above.

 

We have entered into indemnification agreements with our directors and executive officers. The indemnification agreements, as well as our certificate of incorporation and bylaws, require us to indemnify our directors and executive officers to the fullest extent permitted by Delaware law.

 

Policies and Procedures for Related Party Transactions

 

Our board of directors has adopted a written policy that our executive officers, directors, nominees for election as a director, beneficial owners of more than 5% of any class of our common stock and any members of the immediate family of any of the foregoing persons are not permitted to enter into a related person transaction with us without the prior consent of our audit committee. Any request for us to enter into a transaction with an executive officer, director, nominee for election as a director, beneficial owner of more than 5% of any class of our common stock or any member of the immediate family of any of the foregoing persons in which the amount involved exceeds the lesser of $120,000 or 1% of the average of our total assets at year end for the last two completed fiscal years and such person would have a direct or indirect interest must first be presented to our audit committee for review, consideration and approval. In approving or rejecting any such proposal, our audit committee is to consider the material facts of the transaction, including, but not limited to, whether the transaction is on terms no less favorable than terms generally available to an unaffiliated third-party under the same or similar circumstances and the extent of the related person’s interest in the transaction.

 

45

 

OTHER MATTERS

 

Fiscal Year 2022 Annual Report and SEC Filings

 

Our financial statements for our fiscal year ended December 31, 2022 are included in our Annual Report on Form 10-K, which we will make available to stockholders at the same time as this proxy statement. This proxy statement and our annual report are posted on our website at www.avinger.com and are available from the SEC at its website at www.sec.gov. You may also obtain a copy of our annual report without charge by sending a written request to Avinger, Inc., Attention: Investor Relations, 400 Chesapeake Drive, Redwood City, California 94063.

 

* * *

 

The board of directors does not know of any other matters to be presented at the Annual Meeting. If any additional matters are properly presented at the Annual Meeting, the persons named in the enclosed proxy card will have discretion to vote the shares of our common stock they represent in accordance with their own judgment on such matters.

 

It is important that your shares of our common stock be represented at the Annual Meeting, regardless of the number of shares that you hold. You are, therefore, urged to vote by telephone or by using the Internet as instructed on the enclosed proxy card or execute and return, at your earliest convenience, the enclosed proxy card in the envelope that has also been provided.

 

 

THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS

 

Redwood City, California

 

November 22, 2023

 

46

 

Exhibit A

 

Amended and Restated 2015 Equity Incentive Plan, as amended

AVINGER, INC.

2015 EQUITY INCENTIVE PLAN

 

1.

Purposes of the Plan. The purposes of this Plan are:

 

to attract and retain the best available personnel for positions of substantial responsibility,

 

to provide additional incentive to Employees, Directors and Consultants, and

 

to promote the success of the Company’s business.

The Plan permits the grant of Incentive Stock Options, Nonstatutory Stock Options, Restricted Stock, Restricted Stock Units, Stock Appreciation Rights, Performance Units and Performance Shares.

 

2.

Definitions. As used herein, the following definitions will apply:

(a) “Administrator” means the Board or any of its Committees as will be administering the Plan, in accordance with Section 4 of the Plan.

(b) ”Applicable Laws” means the requirements relating to the administration of equity-based awards under U.S. state corporate laws, U.S. federal and state securities laws, the Code, any stock exchange or quotation system on which the Common Stock is listed or quoted and the applicable laws of any foreign country or jurisdiction where Awards are, or will be, granted under the Plan.

(c) ”Award” means, individually or collectively, a grant under the Plan of Options, Stock Appreciation Rights, Restricted Stock, Restricted Stock Units, Performance Units or Performance Shares.

(d) ”Award Agreement” means the written or electronic agreement setting forth the terms and provisions applicable to each Award granted under the Plan. The Award Agreement is subject to the terms and conditions of the Plan.

(e) ”Board” means the Board of Directors of the Company.

(f) ”Change in Control” means the occurrence of any of the following events:

(i) A change in the ownership of the Company which occurs on the date that any one person, or more than one person acting as a group (“Person”), acquires ownership of the stock of the Company that, together with the stock held by such Person, constitutes more than fifty percent (50%) of the total voting power of the stock of the Company; provided, however, that for purposes of this subsection, the acquisition of additional stock by any one Person, who is considered to own more than fifty percent (50%) of the total voting power of the stock of the Company will not be considered a Change in Control; or

(ii) A change in the effective control of the Company which occurs on the date that a majority of members of the Board is replaced during any twelve (12) month period by Directors whose appointment or election is not endorsed by a majority of the members of the Board prior to the date of the appointment or election. For purposes of this clause (ii), if any Person is considered to be in effective control of the Company, the acquisition of additional control of the Company by the same Person will not be considered a Change in Control; or

(iii) A change in the ownership of a substantial portion of the Company’s assets which occurs on the date that any Person acquires (or has acquired during the twelve (12) month period ending on the date of the most recent acquisition by such person or persons) assets from the Company that have a total gross fair market value equal to or more than fifty percent (50%) of the total gross fair market value of all of the assets of the Company immediately prior to such acquisition or acquisitions; provided, however, that for purposes of this subsection (iii), the following will not constitute a change in the ownership of a substantial portion of the Company’s assets: (A) a transfer to an entity that is controlled by the Company’s stockholders immediately after the transfer, or (B) a transfer of assets by the Company to: (1) a stockholder of the Company (immediately before the asset transfer) in exchange for or with respect to the Company’s stock, (2) an entity, fifty percent (50%) or more of the total value or voting power of which is owned, directly or indirectly, by the Company, (3) a Person, that owns, directly or indirectly, fifty percent (50%) or more of the total value or voting power of all the outstanding stock of the Company, or (4) an entity, at least fifty percent (50%) of the total value or voting power of which is owned, directly or indirectly, by a Person described in this subsection (iii)(B)(3). For purposes of this subsection (iii), gross fair market value means the value of the assets of the Company, or the value of the assets being disposed of, determined without regard to any liabilities associated with such assets.

For purposes of this definition, persons will be considered to be acting as a group if they are owners of a corporation that enters into a merger, consolidation, purchase or acquisition of stock, or similar business transaction with the Company.

 

47

 

Notwithstanding the foregoing, a transaction will not be deemed a Change in Control unless the transaction qualifies as a change in control event within the meaning of Code Section 409A, as it has been and may be amended from time to time, and any proposed or final Treasury Regulations and Internal Revenue Service guidance that has been promulgated or may be promulgated thereunder from time to time.

Further and for the avoidance of doubt, a transaction will not constitute a Change in Control if: (i) its sole purpose is to change the state of the Company’s incorporation, or (ii) its sole purpose is to create a holding company that will be owned in substantially the same proportions by the persons who held the Company’s securities immediately before such transaction.

(g) ”Code” means the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended. Reference to a specific section of the Code or regulation thereunder will include such section or regulation, any valid regulation promulgated under such section, and any comparable provision of any future legislation or regulation amending, supplementing or superseding such section or regulation.

(h) “Committee” means a committee of Directors or of other individuals satisfying Applicable Laws appointed by the Board, or a duly authorized committee of the Board, in accordance with Section 4 hereof.

(i) ”Common Stock” means the common stock of the Company.

(j) ”Company” means Avinger, Inc., a Delaware corporation, or any successor thereto.

(k) ”Consultant” means any natural person, including an advisor, engaged by the Company or a Parent or Subsidiary to render bona fide services to such entity, provided the services (i) are not in connection with the offer or sale of securities in a capital-raising transaction, and (ii) do not directly promote or maintain a market for the Company’s securities.

(l) ”Director” means a member of the Board.

(m) ”Disability” means total and permanent disability as defined in Section 22(e)(3) of the Code, provided that in the case of Awards other than Incentive Stock Options, the Administrator in its discretion may determine whether a permanent and total disability exists in accordance with uniform and non-discriminatory standards adopted by the Administrator from time to time.

(n) ”Employee” means any person, including Officers and Directors, employed by the Company or any Parent or Subsidiary of the Company. Neither service as a Director nor payment of a director’s fee by the Company will be sufficient to constitute “employment” by the Company.

(o) ”Exchange Act” means the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended.

(p) ”Exchange Program” means a program under which (i) outstanding Awards are surrendered or cancelled in exchange for awards of the same type (which may have higher or lower exercise prices and different terms), awards of a different type, and/or cash, (ii) Participants would have the opportunity to transfer any outstanding Awards to a financial institution or other person or entity selected by the Administrator, and/or (iii) the exercise price of an outstanding Award is increased or reduced. The Administrator will determine the terms and conditions of any Exchange Program in its sole discretion.

(q) ”Fair Market Value” means, as of any date, the value of Common Stock determined as follows:

(i) If the Common Stock is listed on any established stock exchange or a national market system, including without limitation the New York Stock Exchange, the NASDAQ Global Select Market, the NASDAQ Global Market or the NASDAQ Capital Market of The NASDAQ Stock Market, its Fair Market Value will be the closing sales price for such stock (or the closing bid, if no sales were reported) as quoted on such exchange or system on the day of determination, as reported in The Wall Street Journal or such other source as the Administrator deems reliable;

(ii) If the Common Stock is regularly quoted by a recognized securities dealer but selling prices are not reported, the Fair Market Value of a Share will be the mean between the high bid and low asked prices for the Common Stock on the date of determination (or, if no bids and asks were reported on that date, as applicable, on the last trading date such bids and asks were reported), as reported in The Wall Street Journal or such other source as the Administrator deems reliable;

(iii) For purposes of any Awards granted on the Registration Date, the Fair Market Value will be the initial price to the public as set forth in the final prospectus included within the registration statement on Form S-1 filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission for the initial public offering of the Common Stock; or

(iv) In the absence of an established market for the Common Stock, the Fair Market Value will be determined in good faith by the Administrator.

(r) ”Fiscal Year” means the fiscal year of the Company.

(s) ”Incentive Stock Option” means an Option that by its terms qualifies and is intended to qualify as an incentive stock option within the meaning of Section 422 of the Code.

(t) “Inside Director” means a Director who is an Employee.

 

48

 

(u) ”Nonstatutory Stock Option” means an Option that by its terms does not qualify or is not intended to qualify as an Incentive Stock Option.

(v) ”Officer” means a person who is an officer of the Company within the meaning of Section 16 of the Exchange Act and the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder.

(w) ”Option” means a stock option granted pursuant to the Plan.

(x) ”Outside Director” means a Director who is not an Employee.

(y) ”Parent” means a “parent corporation,” whether now or hereafter existing, as defined in Section 424(e) of the Code.

(z) ”Participant” means the holder of an outstanding Award.

(aa) ”Performance Share” means an Award denominated in Shares which may be earned in whole or in part upon attainment of performance goals or other vesting criteria as the Administrator may determine pursuant to Section 10.

(bb) ”Performance Unit” means an Award which may be earned in whole or in part upon attainment of performance goals or other vesting criteria as the Administrator may determine and which may be settled for cash, Shares or other securities or a combination of the foregoing pursuant to Section 10.

(cc) ”Period of Restriction” means the period during which the transfer of Shares of Restricted Stock are subject to restrictions and therefore, the Shares are subject to a substantial risk of forfeiture. Such restrictions may be based on the passage of time, the achievement of target levels of performance, or the occurrence of other events as determined by the Administrator.

(dd) ”Plan” means this 2015 Equity Incentive Plan.

(ee) ”Registration Date” means the effective date of the first registration statement that is filed by the Company and declared effective pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Exchange Act, with respect to any class of the Company’s securities.

(ff) ”Restricted Stock” means Shares issued pursuant to a Restricted Stock award under Section 7 of the Plan, or issued pursuant to the early exercise of an Option.

(gg) ”Restricted Stock Unit” means a bookkeeping entry representing an amount equal to the Fair Market Value of one Share, granted pursuant to Section 8. Each Restricted Stock Unit represents an unfunded and unsecured obligation of the Company.

(hh) ”Rule 16b-3” means Rule 16b-3 of the Exchange Act or any successor to Rule 16b-3, as in effect when discretion is being exercised with respect to the Plan.

(ii) ”Section 16(b)” means Section 16(b) of the Exchange Act.

(jj) “Service Provider” means an Employee, Director or Consultant.

(kk) ”Share” means a share of the Common Stock, as adjusted in accordance with Section 14 of the Plan.

(ll) ”Stock Appreciation Right” means an Award, granted alone or in connection with an Option, that pursuant to Section 9 is designated as a Stock Appreciation Right.

(mm) ”Subsidiary” means a “subsidiary corporation,” whether now or hereafter existing, as defined in Section 424(f) of the Code.

 

3.

Stock Subject to the Plan.

(a) Stock Subject to the Plan. Subject to the provisions of Section 14 of the Plan, the maximum aggregate number of Shares that may be issued under the Plan is 450,486 Shares, plus the sum of any Shares subject to stock options or similar awards granted under the Company’s 2009 Stock Plan, as amended (the “Existing Plan”) that, on or after the Registration Date, expire or otherwise terminate without having been exercised in full and Shares issued pursuant to awards granted under the Existing Plan that are forfeited to or repurchased by the Company, with the maximum number of Shares to be added to the Plan from previously granted awards under the Existing Plan equal to 375. The Shares may be authorized, but unissued, or reacquired Common Stock.

(b) [RESERVED]

 

49

 

(c) Lapsed Awards. If an Award expires or becomes unexercisable without having been exercised in full, is surrendered pursuant to an Exchange Program, or, with respect to Restricted Stock, Restricted Stock Units, Performance Units or Performance Shares, is forfeited to, or repurchased by, the Company due to failure to vest, then the unpurchased Shares (or for Awards other than Options or Stock Appreciation Rights the forfeited or repurchased Shares), which were subject thereto will become available for future grant or sale under the Plan (unless the Plan has terminated). With respect to Stock Appreciation Rights, only Shares actually issued (i.e., the net Shares issued) pursuant to a Stock Appreciation Right will cease to be available under the Plan; all remaining Shares under Stock Appreciation Rights will remain available for future grant or sale under the Plan (unless the Plan has terminated). Shares that actually have been issued under the Plan under any Award will not be returned to the Plan and will not become available for future distribution under the Plan; provided, however, that if Shares issued pursuant to Awards of Restricted Stock, Restricted Stock Units, Performance Shares or Performance Units are repurchased by the Company or are forfeited to the Company, such Shares will become available for future grant under the Plan. Shares used to pay the exercise price of an Award or to satisfy the tax withholding obligations related to an Award will become available for future grant or sale under the Plan. To the extent an Award under the Plan is paid out in cash rather than Shares, such cash payment will not result in reducing the number of Shares available for issuance under the Plan. Notwithstanding the foregoing and, subject to adjustment as provided in Section 14, the maximum number of Shares that may be issued upon the exercise of Incentive Stock Options will equal the aggregate Share number stated in Section 3(a), plus, to the extent allowable under Section 422 of the Code, any Shares that become available for issuance under the Plan pursuant to Section 3(c).

(d) Share Reserve. The Company, during the term of this Plan, will at all times reserve and keep available such number of Shares as will be sufficient to satisfy the requirements of the Plan.

 

4.

Administration of the Plan.

(a) Procedure.

(i) Multiple Administrative Bodies. Different Committees with respect to different groups of Service Providers may administer the Plan.

(ii) [RESERVED]

(iii) Rule 16b-3. To the extent desirable to qualify transactions hereunder as exempt under Rule 16b-3, the transactions contemplated hereunder will be structured to satisfy the requirements for exemption under Rule 16b-3.

(iv) Other Administration. Other than as provided above, the Plan will be administered by (A) the Board or (B) a Committee, which committee will be constituted to satisfy Applicable Laws.

(b) Powers of the Administrator. Subject to the provisions of the Plan, and in the case of a Committee, subject to the specific duties delegated by the Board to such Committee, the Administrator will have the authority, in its discretion:

(i) to determine the Fair Market Value;

(ii) to select the Service Providers to whom Awards may be granted hereunder;

(iii) to determine the number of Shares to be covered by each Award granted hereunder;

(iv) to approve forms of Award Agreements for use under the Plan;

(v) to determine the terms and conditions, not inconsistent with the terms of the Plan, of any Award granted hereunder. Such terms and conditions include, but are not limited to, the exercise price, the time or times when Awards may be exercised (which may be based on performance criteria), any vesting acceleration or waiver of forfeiture restrictions, and any restriction or limitation regarding any Award or the Shares relating thereto, based in each case on such factors as the Administrator will determine;

(vi) to institute and determine the terms and conditions of an Exchange Program;

(vii) to construe and interpret the terms of the Plan and Awards granted pursuant to the Plan;

(viii) to prescribe, amend and rescind rules and regulations relating to the Plan, including rules and regulations relating to sub-plans established for the purpose of satisfying applicable foreign laws or for qualifying for favorable tax treatment under applicable foreign laws;

(ix) to modify or amend each Award (subject to Section 19 of the Plan), including but not limited to the discretionary authority to extend the post-termination exercisability period of Awards and to extend the maximum term of an Option (subject to Section 6(b) of the Plan regarding Incentive Stock Options);

(x) to allow Participants to satisfy tax withholding obligations in such manner as prescribed in Section 15 of the Plan;

(xi) to authorize any person to execute on behalf of the Company any instrument required to effect the grant of an Award previously granted by the Administrator;

(xii) to allow a Participant to defer the receipt of the payment of cash or the delivery of Shares that otherwise would be due to such Participant under an Award; and

(xiii) to make all other determinations deemed necessary or advisable for administering the Plan.

(c) Effect of Administrators Decision. The Administrator’s decisions, determinations and interpretations will be final and binding on all Participants and any other holders of Awards.

 

50

 

 5. Eligibility. Nonstatutory Stock Options, Stock Appreciation Rights, Restricted Stock, Restricted Stock Units, Performance Shares and Performance Units may be granted to Service Providers. Incentive Stock Options may be granted only to Employees.

 

6.

Stock Options.

(a) Limitations. Each Option will be designated in the Award Agreement as either an Incentive Stock Option or a Nonstatutory Stock Option. However, notwithstanding such designation, to the extent that the aggregate Fair Market Value of the Shares with respect to which Incentive Stock Options are exercisable for the first time by the Participant during any calendar year (under all plans of the Company and any Parent or Subsidiary) exceeds one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000), such Options will be treated as Nonstatutory Stock Options. For purposes of this Section 6(a), Incentive Stock Options will be taken into account in the order in which they were granted. The Fair Market Value of the Shares will be determined as of the time the Option with respect to such Shares is granted.

(b) Term of Option. The term of each Option will be stated in the Award Agreement. In the case of an Incentive Stock Option, the term will be ten (10) years from the date of grant or such shorter term as may be provided in the Award Agreement. Moreover, in the case of an Incentive Stock Option granted to a Participant who, at the time the Incentive Stock Option is granted, owns stock representing more than ten percent (10%) of the total combined voting power of all classes of stock of the Company or any Parent or Subsidiary, the term of the Incentive Stock Option will be five (5) years from the date of grant or such shorter term as may be provided in the Award Agreement.

(c) Option Exercise Price and Consideration.

(i) Exercise Price. The per share exercise price for the Shares to be issued pursuant to exercise of an Option will be determined by the Administrator, subject to the following:

(1) In the case of an Incentive Stock Option

(A) granted to an Employee who, at the time the Incentive Stock Option is granted, owns stock representing more than ten percent (10%) of the voting power of all classes of stock of the Company or any Parent or Subsidiary, the per Share exercise price will be no less than one hundred ten percent (110%) of the Fair Market Value per Share on the date of grant.

(B) granted to any Employee other than an Employee described in paragraph (A) immediately above, the per Share exercise price will be no less than one hundred percent (100%) of the Fair Market Value per Share on the date of grant.

(2) In the case of a Nonstatutory Stock Option, the per Share exercise price will be no less than one hundred percent (100%) of the Fair Market Value per Share on the date of grant.

(3) Notwithstanding the foregoing, Options may be granted with a per Share exercise price of less than one hundred percent (100%) of the Fair Market Value per Share on the date of grant pursuant to a transaction described in, and in a manner consistent with, Section 424(a) of the Code.

(ii) Waiting Period and Exercise Dates. At the time an Option is granted, the Administrator will fix the period within which the Option may be exercised and will determine any conditions that must be satisfied before the Option may be exercised.

(iii) Form of Consideration. The Administrator will determine the acceptable form of consideration for exercising an Option, including the method of payment. In the case of an Incentive Stock Option, the Administrator will determine the acceptable form of consideration at the time of grant. Such consideration may consist entirely of: (1) cash; (2) check; (3) promissory note, to the extent permitted by Applicable Laws, (4) other Shares, provided that such Shares have a Fair Market Value on the date of surrender equal to the aggregate exercise price of the Shares as to which such Option will be exercised and provided that accepting such Shares will not result in any adverse accounting consequences to the Company, as the Administrator determines in its sole discretion; (5) consideration received by the Company under a broker-assisted (or other) cashless exercise program (whether through a broker or otherwise) implemented by the Company in connection with the Plan; (6) by net exercise; (7) such other consideration and method of payment for the issuance of Shares to the extent permitted by Applicable Laws; or (8) any combination of the foregoing methods of payment.

(d) Exercise of Option.

(i) Procedure for Exercise; Rights as a Stockholder. Any Option granted hereunder will be exercisable according to the terms of the Plan and at such times and under such conditions as determined by the Administrator and set forth in the Award Agreement. An Option may not be exercised for a fraction of a Share.

 

51

 

An Option will be deemed exercised when the Company receives: (i) a notice of exercise (in such form as the Administrator may specify from time to time) from the person entitled to exercise the Option, and (ii) full payment for the Shares with respect to which the Option is exercised (together with applicable withholding taxes). Full payment may consist of any consideration and method of payment authorized by the Administrator and permitted by the Award Agreement and the Plan. Shares issued upon exercise of an Option will be issued in the name of the Participant or, if requested by the Participant, in the name of the Participant and his or her spouse. Until the Shares are issued (as evidenced by the appropriate entry on the books of the Company or of a duly authorized transfer agent of the Company), no right to vote or receive dividends or any other rights as a stockholder will exist with respect to the Shares subject to an Option, notwithstanding the exercise of the Option. The Company will issue (or cause to be issued) such Shares promptly after the Option is exercised. No adjustment will be made for a dividend or other right for which the record date is prior to the date the Shares are issued, except as provided in Section 14 of the Plan.

Exercising an Option in any manner will decrease the number of Shares thereafter available, both for purposes of the Plan and for sale under the Option, by the number of Shares as to which the Option is exercised.

(ii) Termination of Relationship as a Service Provider. If a Participant ceases to be a Service Provider, other than upon the Participant’s termination as the result of the Participant’s death or Disability, the Participant may exercise his or her Option within such period of time as is specified in the Award Agreement to the extent that the Option is vested on the date of termination (but in no event later than the expiration of the term of such Option as set forth in the Award Agreement). In the absence of a specified time in the Award Agreement, the Option will remain exercisable for three (3) months following the Participant’s termination. Unless otherwise provided by the Administrator, if on the date of termination the Participant is not vested as to his or her entire Option, the Shares covered by the unvested portion of the Option will revert to the Plan. If after termination the Participant does not exercise his or her Option within the time specified by the Administrator, the Option will terminate, and the Shares covered by such Option will revert to the Plan.

(iii) Disability of Participant. If a Participant ceases to be a Service Provider as a result of the Participant’s Disability, the Participant may exercise his or her Option within such period of time as is specified in the Award Agreement to the extent the Option is vested on the date of termination (but in no event later than the expiration of the term of such Option as set forth in the Award Agreement). In the absence of a specified time in the Award Agreement, the Option will remain exercisable for twelve (12) months following the Participant’s termination. Unless otherwise provided by the Administrator, if on the date of termination the Participant is not vested as to his or her entire Option, the Shares covered by the unvested portion of the Option will revert to the Plan. If after termination the Participant does not exercise his or her Option within the time specified herein, the Option will terminate, and the Shares covered by such Option will revert to the Plan.

(iv) Death of Participant. If a Participant dies while a Service Provider, the Option may be exercised following the Participant’s death within such period of time as is specified in the Award Agreement to the extent that the Option is vested on the date of death (but in no event may the option be exercised later than the expiration of the term of such Option as set forth in the Award Agreement), by the Participant’s designated beneficiary, provided such beneficiary has been designated prior to Participant’s death in a form acceptable to the Administrator. If no such beneficiary has been designated by the Participant, then such Option may be exercised by the personal representative of the Participant’s estate or by the person(s) to whom the Option is transferred pursuant to the Participant’s will or in accordance with the laws of descent and distribution. In the absence of a specified time in the Award Agreement, the Option will remain exercisable for twelve (12) months following Participant’s death. Unless otherwise provided by the Administrator, if at the time of death Participant is not vested as to his or her entire Option, the Shares covered by the unvested portion of the Option will immediately revert to the Plan. If the Option is not so exercised within the time specified herein, the Option will terminate, and the Shares covered by such Option will revert to the Plan.

 

7.

Restricted Stock.

(a) Grant of Restricted Stock. Subject to the terms and provisions of the Plan, the Administrator, at any time and from time to time, may grant Shares of Restricted Stock to Service Providers in such amounts as the Administrator, in its sole discretion, will determine.

(b) Restricted Stock Agreement. Each Award of Restricted Stock will be evidenced by an Award Agreement that will specify the Period of Restriction, the number of Shares granted, and such other terms and conditions as the Administrator, in its sole discretion, will determine. Unless the Administrator determines otherwise, the Company as escrow agent will hold Shares of Restricted Stock until the restrictions on such Shares have lapsed.

(c) Transferability. Except as provided in this Section 7 or the Award Agreement, Shares of Restricted Stock may not be sold, transferred, pledged, assigned, or otherwise alienated or hypothecated until the end of the applicable Period of Restriction.

 

52

 

(d) Other Restrictions. The Administrator, in its sole discretion, may impose such other restrictions on Shares of Restricted Stock as it may deem advisable or appropriate.

(e) Removal of Restrictions. Except as otherwise provided in this Section 7, Shares of Restricted Stock covered by each Restricted Stock grant made under the Plan will be released from escrow as soon as practicable after the last day of the Period of Restriction or at such other time as the Administrator may determine. The Administrator, in its discretion, may accelerate the time at which any restrictions will lapse or be removed.

(f) Voting Rights. During the Period of Restriction, Service Providers holding Shares of Restricted Stock granted hereunder may exercise full voting rights with respect to those Shares, unless the Administrator determines otherwise.

(g) Dividends and Other Distributions. During the Period of Restriction, Service Providers holding Shares of Restricted Stock will be entitled to receive all dividends and other distributions paid with respect to such Shares, unless the Administrator provides otherwise. If any such dividends or distributions are paid in Shares, the Shares will be subject to the same restrictions on transferability and forfeitability as the Shares of Restricted Stock with respect to which they were paid.

(h) Return of Restricted Stock to Company. On the date set forth in the Award Agreement, the Restricted Stock for which restrictions have not lapsed will revert to the Company and again will become available for grant under the Plan.

 

8.

Restricted Stock Units.

(a) Grant. Restricted Stock Units may be granted at any time and from time to time as determined by the Administrator. After the Administrator determines that it will grant Restricted Stock Units under the Plan, it will advise the Participant in an Award Agreement of the terms, conditions, and restrictions related to the grant, including the number of Restricted Stock Units.

(b) Vesting Criteria and Other Terms. The Administrator will set vesting criteria in its discretion, which, depending on the extent to which the criteria are met, will determine the number of Restricted Stock Units that will be paid out to the Participant. The Administrator may set vesting criteria based upon the achievement of Company-wide, divisional, business unit, or individual goals (including, but not limited to, continued employment or service), applicable federal or state securities laws or any other basis determined by the Administrator in its discretion.

(c) Earning Restricted Stock Units. Upon meeting the applicable vesting criteria, the Participant will be entitled to receive a payout as determined by the Administrator. Notwithstanding the foregoing, at any time after the grant of Restricted Stock Units, the Administrator, in its sole discretion, may reduce or waive any vesting criteria that must be met to receive a payout.

(d) Form and Timing of Payment. Payment of earned Restricted Stock Units will be made as soon as practicable after the date(s) determined by the Administrator and set forth in the Award Agreement. The Administrator, in its sole discretion, may only settle earned Restricted Stock Units in cash, Shares, or a combination of both.

(e) Cancellation. On the date set forth in the Award Agreement, all unearned Restricted Stock Units will be forfeited to the Company.

 

 

9.

Stock Appreciation Rights.

(a) Grant of Stock Appreciation Rights. Subject to the terms and conditions of the Plan, a Stock Appreciation Right may be granted to Service Providers at any time and from time to time as will be determined by the Administrator, in its sole discretion.

(b) Number of Shares. The Administrator will have complete discretion to determine the number of Stock Appreciation Rights granted to any Service Provider.

(c) Exercise Price and Other Terms. The per share exercise price for the Shares to be issued pursuant to exercise of a Stock Appreciation Right will be determined by the Administrator and will be no less than one hundred percent (100%) of the Fair Market Value per Share on the date of grant. Otherwise, the Administrator, subject to the provisions of the Plan, will have complete discretion to determine the terms and conditions of Stock Appreciation Rights granted under the Plan.

(d) Stock Appreciation Right Agreement. Each Stock Appreciation Right grant will be evidenced by an Award Agreement that will specify the exercise price, the term of the Stock Appreciation Right, the conditions of exercise, and such other terms and conditions as the Administrator, in its sole discretion, will determine.

(e) Expiration of Stock Appreciation Rights. A Stock Appreciation Right granted under the Plan will expire ten (10) years from the date of grant or such shorter term as may be provided in the Award Agreement, as determined by the Administrator, in its sole discretion. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the rules of Section 6(d) relating to exercise also will apply to Stock Appreciation Rights.

 

53

 

(f) Payment of Stock Appreciation Right Amount. Upon exercise of a Stock Appreciation Right, a Participant will be entitled to receive payment from the Company in an amount determined by multiplying:

(i) The difference between the Fair Market Value of a Share on the date of exercise over the exercise price; times

(ii) The number of Shares with respect to which the Stock Appreciation Right is exercised.

At the discretion of the Administrator, the payment upon Stock Appreciation Right exercise may be in cash, in Shares of equivalent value, or in some combination thereof.

 

10.

Performance Units and Performance Shares.

(a) Grant of Performance Units/Shares. Performance Units and Performance Shares may be granted to Service Providers at any time and from time to time, as will be determined by the Administrator, in its sole discretion. The Administrator will have complete discretion in determining the number of Performance Units and Performance Shares granted to each Participant.

(b) Value of Performance Units/Shares. Each Performance Unit will have an initial value that is established by the Administrator on or before the date of grant. Each Performance Share will have an initial value equal to the Fair Market Value of a Share on the date of grant.

(c) Performance Objectives and Other Terms. The Administrator will set performance objectives or other vesting provisions (including, without limitation, continued status as a Service Provider) in its discretion which, depending on the extent to which they are met, will determine the number or value of Performance Units/Shares that will be paid out to the Service Providers. The time period during which the performance objectives or other vesting provisions must be met will be called the “Performance Period.” Each Award of Performance Units/Shares will be evidenced by an Award Agreement that will specify the Performance Period, and such other terms and conditions as the Administrator, in its sole discretion, will determine. The Administrator may set performance objectives based upon the achievement of Company-wide, divisional, business unit or individual goals (including, but not limited to, continued employment or service), applicable federal or state securities laws, or any other basis determined by the Administrator in its discretion.

(d) Earning of Performance Units/Shares. After the applicable Performance Period has ended, the holder of Performance Units/Shares will be entitled to receive a payout of the number of Performance Units/Shares earned by the Participant over the Performance Period, to be determined as a function of the extent to which the corresponding performance objectives or other vesting provisions have been achieved. After the grant of a Performance Unit/Share, the Administrator, in its sole discretion, may reduce or waive any performance objectives or other vesting provisions for such Performance Unit/Share.

(e) Form and Timing of Payment of Performance Units/Shares. Payment of earned Performance Units/Shares will be made as soon as practicable after the expiration of the applicable Performance Period. The Administrator, in its sole discretion, may pay earned Performance Units/Shares in the form of cash, in Shares (which have an aggregate Fair Market Value equal to the value of the earned Performance Units/Shares at the close of the applicable Performance Period) or in a combination thereof.

(f) Cancellation of Performance Units/Shares. On the date set forth in the Award Agreement, all unearned or unvested Performance Units/Shares will be forfeited to the Company, and again will be available for grant under the Plan.

11. Outside Director Limitations. No Outside Director may be granted, in any Fiscal Year, Awards with a grant date fair value (determined in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles) of greater than $250,000, including in the Fiscal Year of his or her initial service as an Outside Director. Any Awards granted to an individual while he or she was an Employee, or while he or she was a Consultant but not an Outside Director, will not count for purposes of the limitations under this Section 11.

12. Leaves of Absence/Transfer Between Locations. Unless the Administrator provides otherwise, vesting of Awards granted hereunder will be suspended during any unpaid leave of absence. A Participant will not cease to be an Employee in the case of (i) any leave of absence approved by the Company or (ii) transfers between locations of the Company or between the Company, its Parent, or any Subsidiary. For purposes of Incentive Stock Options, no such leave may exceed three (3) months, unless reemployment upon expiration of such leave is guaranteed by statute or contract. If reemployment upon expiration of a leave of absence approved by the Company is not so guaranteed, then six (6) months following the first (1st) day of such leave any Incentive Stock Option held by the Participant will cease to be treated as an Incentive Stock Option and will be treated for tax purposes as a Nonstatutory Stock Option.

 

54

 

13. Transferability of Awards. Unless determined otherwise by the Administrator, an Award may not be sold, pledged, assigned, hypothecated, transferred, or disposed of in any manner other than by will or by the laws of descent or distribution and may be exercised, during the lifetime of the Participant, only by the Participant. If the Administrator makes an Award transferable, such Award will contain such additional terms and conditions as the Administrator deems appropriate.

14. Adjustments; Dissolution or Liquidation; Change in Control.

(a) Adjustments. In the event that any dividend or other distribution (whether in the form of cash, Shares, other securities, or other property), recapitalization, stock split, reverse stock split, reorganization, merger, consolidation, split-up, spin-off, combination, repurchase, or exchange of Shares or other securities of the Company, or other change in the corporate structure of the Company affecting the Shares occurs, the Administrator, in order to prevent diminution or enlargement of the benefits or potential benefits intended to be made available under the Plan, will adjust the number and class of Shares that may be delivered under the Plan and/or the number, class, and price of Shares covered by each outstanding Award, and the numerical Share limit in Section 3 of the Plan.

(b) Dissolution or Liquidation. In the event of the proposed dissolution or liquidation of the Company, the Administrator will notify each Participant as soon as practicable prior to the effective date of such proposed transaction. To the extent it previously has not been exercised, an Award will terminate immediately prior to the consummation of such proposed action.

(c) Change in Control. In the event of a Change in Control, each outstanding Award will be treated as the Administrator determines, including, without limitation, that (i) Awards may be assumed, or substantially equivalent Awards will be substituted, by the acquiring or succeeding corporation (or an affiliate thereof) with appropriate adjustments as to the number and kind of shares and prices; (ii) upon written notice to a Participant, that the Participant’s Awards will terminate upon or immediately prior to the consummation of such Change in Control; (iii) outstanding Awards will vest and become exercisable, realizable, or payable, or restrictions applicable to an Award will lapse, in whole or in part prior to or upon consummation of such Change in Control, and, to the extent the Administrator determines, terminate upon or immediately prior to the effectiveness of such merger or Change in Control; (iv) (A) the termination of an Award in exchange for an amount of cash and/or property, if any, equal to the amount that would have been attained upon the exercise of such Award or realization of the Participant’s rights as of the date of the occurrence of the transaction (and, for the avoidance of doubt, if as of the date of the occurrence of the transaction the Administrator determines in good faith that no amount would have been attained upon the exercise of such Award or realization of the Participant’s rights, then such Award may be terminated by the Company without payment), or (B) the replacement of such Award with other rights or property selected by the Administrator in its sole discretion; or (v) any combination of the foregoing. In taking any of the actions permitted under this Section 14(c), the Administrator will not be required to treat all Awards similarly in the transaction.

In the event that the successor corporation does not assume or substitute for the Award, the Participant will fully vest in and have the right to exercise all of his or her outstanding Options and Stock Appreciation Rights, including Shares as to which such Awards would not otherwise be vested or exercisable, all restrictions on Restricted Stock and Restricted Stock Units will lapse, and, with respect to Awards with performance-based vesting, all performance goals or other vesting criteria will be deemed achieved at one hundred percent (100%) of target levels and all other terms and conditions met. In addition, if an Option or Stock Appreciation Right is not assumed or substituted in the event of a Change in Control, the Administrator will notify the Participant in writing or electronically that the Option or Stock Appreciation Right will be exercisable for a period of time determined by the Administrator in its sole discretion, and the Option or Stock Appreciation Right will terminate upon the expiration of such period.

For the purposes of this subsection (c), an Award will be considered assumed if, following the Change in Control, the Award confers the right to purchase or receive, for each Share subject to the Award immediately prior to the Change in Control, the consideration (whether stock, cash, or other securities or property) received in the Change in Control by holders of Common Stock for each Share held on the effective date of the transaction (and if holders were offered a choice of consideration, the type of consideration chosen by the holders of a majority of the outstanding Shares); provided, however, that if such consideration received in the Change in Control is not solely common stock of the successor corporation or its Parent, the Administrator may, with the consent of the successor corporation, provide for the consideration to be received upon the exercise of an Option or Stock Appreciation Right or upon the payout of a Restricted Stock Unit, Performance Unit or Performance Share, for each Share subject to such Award, to be solely common stock of the successor corporation or its Parent equal in fair market value to the per share consideration received by holders of Common Stock in the Change in Control.

 

55

 

Notwithstanding anything in this Section 14(c) to the contrary, an Award that vests, is earned or paid-out upon the satisfaction of one or more performance goals will not be considered assumed if the Company or its successor modifies any of such performance goals without the Participant’s consent; provided, however, a modification to such performance goals only to reflect the successor corporation’s post-Change in Control corporate structure will not be deemed to invalidate an otherwise valid Award assumption.

(d) Outside Director Awards. With respect to Awards granted to an Outside Director, in the event of a Change in Control, the Participant will fully vest in and have the right to exercise Options and/or Stock Appreciation Rights as to all of the Shares underlying such Award, including those Shares which otherwise would not be vested or exercisable, all restrictions on Restricted Stock and Restricted Stock Units will lapse, and, with respect to Awards with performance-based vesting, all performance goals or other vesting criteria will be deemed achieved at one hundred percent (100%) of target levels and all other terms and conditions met.

 

 

15.

Tax.

(a) Withholding Requirements. Prior to the delivery of any Shares or cash pursuant to an Award (or exercise thereof) or such earlier time as any tax withholding obligations are due, the Company will have the power and the right to deduct or withhold, or require a Participant to remit to the Company, an amount sufficient to satisfy federal, state, local, foreign or other taxes (including the Participant’s FICA obligation) required to be withheld with respect to such Award (or exercise thereof).

(b) Withholding Arrangements. The Administrator, in its sole discretion and pursuant to such procedures as it may specify from time to time, may permit a Participant to satisfy such tax withholding obligation, in whole or in part by (without limitation) (a) paying cash, (b) electing to have the Company withhold otherwise deliverable cash or Shares having a Fair Market Value equal to the minimum statutory amount required to be withheld, or (c) delivering to the Company already-owned Shares having a Fair Market Value equal to the minimum statutory amount required to be withheld. The Fair Market Value of the Shares to be withheld or delivered will be determined as of the date that the taxes are required to be withheld.

(c) Compliance With Code Section 409A. Awards will be designed and operated in such a manner that they are either exempt from the application of, or comply with, the requirements of Code Section 409A such that the grant, payment, settlement or deferral will not be subject to the additional tax or interest applicable under Code Section 409A, except as otherwise determined in the sole discretion of the Administrator. The Plan and each Award Agreement under the Plan is intended to meet the requirements of Code Section 409A and will be construed and interpreted in accordance with such intent, except as otherwise determined in the sole discretion of the Administrator. To the extent that an Award or payment, or the settlement or deferral thereof, is subject to Code Section 409A, the Award will be granted, paid, settled or deferred in a manner that will meet the requirements of Code Section 409A, such that the grant, payment, settlement or deferral will not be subject to the additional tax or interest applicable under Code Section 409A.

16. No Effect on Employment or Service. Neither the Plan nor any Award will confer upon a Participant any right with respect to continuing the Participant’s relationship as a Service Provider with the Company, nor will they interfere in any way with the Participant’s right or the Company’s right to terminate such relationship at any time, with or without cause, to the extent permitted by Applicable Laws.

17. Date of Grant. The date of grant of an Award will be, for all purposes, the date on which the Administrator makes the determination granting such Award, or such other later date as is determined by the Administrator. Notice of the determination will be provided to each Participant within a reasonable time after the date of such grant.

18. Term of Plan. Subject to Section 22 of the Plan, the Plan will become effective upon the later to occur of (i) its adoption by the Board or (ii) the business day immediately prior to the Registration Date. It will continue in effect for a term of ten (10) years from the date adopted by the Board, unless terminated earlier under Section 19 of the Plan.

 

19.

Amendment and Termination of the Plan.

(a) Amendment and Termination. The Administrator may at any time amend, alter, suspend or terminate the Plan.

(b) Stockholder Approval. The Company will obtain stockholder approval of any Plan amendment to the extent necessary and desirable to comply with Applicable Laws.

(c) Effect of Amendment or Termination. No amendment, alteration, suspension or termination of the Plan will materially impair the rights of any Participant, unless mutually agreed otherwise between the Participant and the Administrator, which agreement must be in writing and signed by the Participant and the Company. Termination of the Plan will not affect the Administrator’s ability to exercise the powers granted to it hereunder with respect to Awards granted under the Plan prior to the date of such termination.

 

56

 

 

20.

Conditions Upon Issuance of Shares.

(a) Legal Compliance. Shares will not be issued pursuant to the exercise of an Award unless the exercise of such Award and the issuance and delivery of such Shares will comply with Applicable Laws and will be further subject to the approval of counsel for the Company with respect to such compliance.

(b) Investment Representations. As a condition to the exercise of an Award, the Company may require the person exercising such Award to represent and warrant at the time of any such exercise that the Shares are being purchased only for investment and without any present intention to sell or distribute such Shares if, in the opinion of counsel for the Company, such a representation is required.

21. Inability to Obtain Authority. The inability of the Company to obtain authority from any regulatory body having jurisdiction or to complete or comply with the requirements of any registration or other qualification of the Shares under any state, federal or foreign law or under the rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the stock exchange on which Shares of the same class are then listed, or any other governmental or regulatory body, which authority, registration, qualification or rule compliance is deemed by the Company’s counsel to be necessary or advisable for the issuance and sale of any Shares hereunder, will relieve the Company of any liability in respect of the failure to issue or sell such Shares as to which such requisite authority, registration, qualification or rule compliance will not have been obtained.

22. Stockholder Approval. The Plan will be subject to approval by the stockholders of the Company within twelve (12) months after the date the Plan is adopted by the Board. Such stockholder approval will be obtained in the manner and to the degree required under Applicable Laws.

 

57

proxycards_page1.jpg
58

proxycards_page2.jpg
59

Avinger (NASDAQ:AVGR)
과거 데이터 주식 차트
부터 1월(1) 2024 으로 2월(2) 2024 Avinger 차트를 더 보려면 여기를 클릭.
Avinger (NASDAQ:AVGR)
과거 데이터 주식 차트
부터 2월(2) 2023 으로 2월(2) 2024 Avinger 차트를 더 보려면 여기를 클릭.