Chemical Banking Corp. is awarding stock options to all employees from middle management to mailroom clerks.

The program, announced internally by Chemical on Wednesday and dubbed Success Sharing, grants all current full-time employees from vice presidents on down 500 stock options. Part-time employees receive 250 options.

Senior executives are not eligible for the plan, but many of them already receive stock options as part of their annual conpensation. Those options are awarded year to year, based on performance.

'Incentives into the Future'

"We wanted to thank those people involved in the merger (between Chemical and Manufacturers Hanover Trust Co.), and to provide them with incentives into the future," said Martin Zuckerman, Chemical's executive vice president in change of hanam resources.

In January, Chase Manhattan Bank become the first bank to offer options to all employees. NationsBank announced an options program in 1992.

"There's been a recent move to extend stock options down through the organization," said Diane Posnak, managing director of Pearl Meyer & Partners Inc. Banks "want to encourage performance in the ranks, because they feel the rank and file is the future."

Chemical's employees can excercise their options at a pershare price of $40.375, which was the stock's average price on June 15. Or, employees can redeem the shares if the stock price hits certain levels. If specified prices aren't reached within six years, employees can redeem all their shares beginning June 15, 2000, and have till June 14, 2004 to cash them in.

FASB Questions Loom

Ms. Posnak said the future of stock option programs for middle- and lower-level employees was in question because of a Financial Accounting Standards Board proposal requiring a charge to earnings for stock options beginning in 1997.

Mr. Zuckerman said Chemical's program would not be affected by any FASB change.

Could an earnings charge affect plans? "We haven't thought our way through" that issue, Mr. Zuckerman said.

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