(Adds lawyer comment, McKinsey declining to comment, paragraphs
By Tom Hals
April 10 AlixPartners, a leading business
turnaround advisory firm, sued two former managing directors on
claims they breached employment contracts and stole trade
secrets after they jumped to consulting firm McKinsey & Co.
Eric Thompson of Singapore and Ivo Naumann of Shanghai
allegedly took to McKinsey confidential marketing materials,
client information and even contacts of Lisa Donahue, the global
leader of Alix's restructuring practice.
The pair violated their employment agreements and their
duties to AlixPartners, according to the complaint filed late
Wednesday in Delaware's Court of Chancery.
Alix asked the court to bar the pair from using the
information they took and from soliciting other Alix employees.
The firm also asked the court to bar Thompson from working for
McKinsey for a year.
"This is an egregious case in which we allege that two
trusted partners brazenly sent highly sensitive information from
their work to their personal email accounts on the eve of their
departures for McKinsey," said Jason Schwartz, a lawyer with
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher who represents Alix.
McKinsey declined to comment. The lawsuit said McKinsey's
chief executive, Dominic Barton, told Alix he expected Thompson
and Naumann to honor their commitments.
A spokesman for AlixPartners declined to comment.
McKinsey is among the most influential consulting firms in
the world and specializes in strategic planning. In recent
years, it has been expanding into the restructuring of ailing
"McKinsey is using this as a point of entry for its other
advisory businesses, such as marketing strategy and supply chain
management," said David Pauker of Goldin Associates, which
specializes in advising companies in financial distress.
McKinsey has been playing catch-up to the major players in
the field, such as FTI Consulting Inc, Alvarez & Marsal
and Alix, in part by recruiting their staff.
In the middle of 2013, Thompson and Naumann were recruited
by McKinsey director Jon Garcia and were encouraged to leave by
McKinsey's Barton, according to the lawsuit. Barton even
approved a special arrangement for Naumann, allowing him to
serve as a partner of both McKinsey and its Recovery and
Transformation Services unit.
Naumann allegedly forwarded numerous documents to his Yahoo!
email account in the days prior to his departure. These included
salary and bonus information for Alix consultants, client
pitches and AlixPartners' revenue parameters for Asia, which was
sent to him from the firm's chief executive, Fred Crawford.
Crawford instructed Naumann not to share it with anyone,
according to the lawsuit.
Naumann was so busy forwarding information to his personal
email account, according to the lawsuit, that he lost track of
what he had and took some reports more than once.
"Mr. Naumann appeared to be making a frantic effort to steal
whatever documents he could before he left AlixPartners," the
Thompson joined Alix's Hong Kong office in May 2011 after
stints with oil producer Rubicon Offshore International, as
chief restructuring officer, and the Harmony Capital Partners
hedge fund. Naumann joined Alix in 2007 in Shanghai.
The case is AlixPartners LLP v Eric Thompson and Ivo
Naumann, Delaware Court of Chancery, No. 9523
(Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by
Andre Grenon and Leslie Adler)