Century Aluminum ex-CEO says he was forced out

Fri Nov 18, 2011 8:00pm EST

Related Topics

* Ex-CEO Kruger says he was terminated and did not resign

* Century share price down almost 15 pct since Kruger left

* Glencore members took control of Century board in June

By Carole Vaporean

NEW YORK, Nov 18 (Reuters) - The former chief executive of Century Aluminum Co , Logan Kruger, said he was ousted after commodities group Glencore International took control of the U.S. aluminum producer's board.

Kruger's assertion is contrary to Century's announcement this week that said Kruger had resigned.

The difference could mean millions of dollars of additional pay due to him and he is suing his former employer in a bid to collect, he said.

"It's not true that I terminated myself," Kruger told Reuters. "I was terminated involuntarily. I was ordered out of my office on Friday, November 11, by the chairman of the board and given an ultimatum to accept their offer by the end of Nov. 14. I was left no choice, but to pursue a legal remedy."

According to his employment contract, a voluntary departure would entitle him to a $6.2 million package. But in the case of "a change in control" of the Monterey, California-based company, he would be in line to receive $26 million, according to a federal regulatory filing last April.

Kruger's lawyer said Swiss-based Glencore is arguing that there was no change in control, even though a Century shareholder meeting in June installed three of Glencore's representatives to the board, joining three others already on the 11-member board.

Glencore owns about 45 percent of Century shares and is the single largest share holder.

On Tuesday, Century said in a statement that Kruger, Century's chief executive since December 2005, had "terminated his employment with the company and resigned as a director."

Century also said Kruger had sued the company, alleging breach of contract and wrongful termination.

Glencore did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

A Century Aluminum spokesman, citing active litigation, said the company could not comment beyond the language in the press statement.

The company named Chief Financial Officer Michael Bless as acting CEO.

Since the company announced Kruger's departure on Tuesday, Century's share price has fallen nearly 15 percent, ending Friday at $9.52 per share.

Century Aluminum was formed in 1995 by Glencore as a holding company for its aluminum-producing assets, but was spun off in March 1996, according to the company website.

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