The billionaire chairman of chemical company Ineos is to sue his former right-hand man Calum MacLean over his exit terms.
Mr MacLean joined the rival company Synthomer as chief executive in January. He was a founding partner of Ineos in 1998 and found himself in the public spotlight in 2013 during the group’s conflict with unions at its Grangemouth refinery in Scotland.
The legal action by Jim Ratcliffe, which was revealed by the business newspaper City AM, came in relation to an announcement yesterday that Synthomer had poached Steve Bennett as its new chief financial officer from July. He will join from the same role at Petroineos Refining – a joint venture of Ineos and the Chinese state-owned oil company PetroChina.
In the Stock Exchange announcement Mr MacLean said: “I have known Steve for the past 10 years and I am delighted to welcome someone of his calibre to Synthomer. His significant experience will be of enormous benefit to me and the senior team as we look to take Synthomer into a new phase of its growth.”
Ineos confirmed it had written to Synthomer’s chairman but would not divulge anything further. Slaughter and May is the group’s lawyer.
It is understood that Mr Ratcliffe considers the latest hiring to be a breach of Mr MacLean’s departure terms and that he wants to cancel the remainder of a financial package given to him.
If Mr Ratcliffe wins his case, Mr MacLean stands to lose a considerable sum, believed to be tens of millions of pounds.
In a letter seen by City AM, Mr Ratcliffe told Synthomer that hiring Mr Bennett “reflects very badly on the reputation of your company”. The letter assumes that the board did not know of the agreement with Mr MacLean.
A Synthomer spokesman said its board “is entirely satisfied with the integrity of the process that led to Steve Bennett’s appointment.”Reuse content