Baltimore's former chief executive plans to sue his successor

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The Independent Online

Baltimore Technologies, the struggling internet security software firm, faced fresh grief yesterday after it emerged Fran Rooney, its former chief executive and deputy chairman, planned to sue the firm for damages.

Mr Rooney, who parted company with Baltimore in July, is said to be pursuing the claim as he believes the company's management team have been bad-mouthing him. He believes that those negative comments, made to journalists, are in breach of a "compromise agreement" that he struck with the company when he left.

In particular, he is said to have pointed the finger of blame at Baltimore's new chief executive, Bijan Khezri, who was appointed to the role in October and who has been vocal in his thoughts on Baltimore's past problems and how to fix them. Shortly after his appointment as chief executive, Mr Khezri told The Independent that he thought his predecessors' salaries were "unacceptable" and that he thought the company was "obsessed with self importance".

In that interview, Mr Khezri also said: "There have been far too many employees in the business who didn't have a clear purpose and certainly no clearly defined performance criteria. And there was a total absence of customer focus."

A spokesperson for Baltimore confirmed yesterday that a claim had been filed and that proceedings were going ahead. She said, however, that Baltimore planned to "vigorously" defend the claim and believed it had a "very strong" case.

Mr Rooney is said to have claimed the Mr Khezri said there was a "vacuum of leadership" during Mr Rooney's time as chief executive.

"His (Mr Rooney's) attitude was like it would be a great business if we hadn't had all these stupid customers to worry about," Mr Khezri is alleged to have said.

Neither Mr Rooney nor Mr Khezri were available yesterday for comment. Both men were said to be in Japan on separate business trips.

Mr Rooney, who headed Baltimore for five years, left the company five months ago to "pursue other interests". His resignation followed two profits warnings, a major restructuring programme and the departure of a string of executives.

Mr Rooney said then: "The company is now entering a new phase of development and faces fresh challenges. After five years with Baltimore, I have decided to pursue other interests which include board positions that have been offered to me." He is now chairman of Irish technology firm Addoceo and also sits on the board of Epionet, another Dublin-based tech firm. Baltimore, which was once valued at some £7bn with a place in the FTSE 100 index and on Nasdaq, is now worth a mere £92m and is fighting for its survival. The company has undergone a radical restructuring this year, costing hundreds of jobs.

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