Strategy & Operations » Leadership & Management » Explosive legal spat set to erupt over Chemical giant poaching claim

AN ALMIGHTY legal spat is set to be unleashed as chemicals giant Synthomer rebuffed accusations that its new chief executive Calum MacLean had fallen foul of the terms of his contract with his previous employer Ineos.

The row is centred on claims that Steve Bennett, Synthomer’s chief financial officer who also left Ineos to join the chemicals company, was poached by MacLean.  Jim Ratcliffe, chairman of the Swiss-based Ineos, is to sue MacLean, a former close colleague of 16 years, CityAM reports.

Should the claim be proven, it could open the floodgates for a bumper multi-million payout. But Synthomer’s board firmly rejected the accusation in a letter to Ineos, the paper understands.

Ineos is set to start a highly controversial “fracking” operation in northwest England, to drill for shale gas after recently purchasing exploration rights.

CityAM reported that when hunting for a new finance chief, the firm has cast its net wide, advertising extensively for a candidate and used an outside agency to create a list of suitably qualified candidates.

But the chemicals group had made specifdic reference to Bennett’s previous role yesterday.

“He has a superb track record at Ineos and 30 years of experience working in finance across a broad range of sectors, not least the chemical industry,” CityAM reported Synthomer’s chairman Neil Johnson as saying on welcoming the new CFO. “I have no doubt that Steve’s considerable knowledge and skills will be invaluable to the group as we move forward.”

Both MacLean and Bennett are on comparable financial packages to their predecessors. Ineos told the paper that it had written to the chairman of Synthomer but refused to be drawn on its content.

No comment was forthcoming from Synthomer.