Outlook: Strong arm of the lawyers

Click to follow
SUBTLETY IS NOT Emerson Electric's strong point. The US firm last hit the headlines for the strong-arm methods it employed to buy out the minority shareholders in Astec BSR. The tactic was simple if brutal: agree to be bought out at the market price or watch as we slash the dividend. The case went to court and Emerson won.

This time around it has won judgment against Trevor Wheatley, a former employee of a company it acquired in 1995, requiring him to honour an agreement not to start up a competing business. Since the agreement expires in five months, the legal action seems a little pointless. Unless the aim was to divert attention from Mr Wheatley's claim for wrongful dismissal. Or unless Emerson has a few too many lawyers on its board.