FRANKFURT, March 20 The recently-departed CEO of
German synthetic rubber specialist Lanxess is
considering legal action to claw back severance pay he says he
was forced to waive under pressure from the company.
The world's largest maker of synthetic rubber for tyres
announced in late January that Axel Heitmann, who had run the
company since 2004, would be stepping down by mutual agreement.
Since then, his designated successor, Matthias Zachert, has
been outspoken in criticising the firm's cash management under
Heitmann, saying too much was spent on new plants and
Heitmann's lawyers said in a statement on Thursday that
after his departure was made public, the supervisory board
chairman accused him of overcharging the company for security
features that were added to his private home and pressured him
to forego his severance package.
A company spokesman denied he was pressured into doing that.
German publications WirtschaftsWoche and Manager Magazin,
have reported that at least 6 million euros ($8.4 million) in
compensation is at stake for Heitmann.
His lawyers say that Heitmann only agreed to give up the
package because he was told that otherwise he would be fired
outright, with Lanxess making clear the departure was not by
"Our client has decided for his waiver of the severance
package to be legally reviewed and potentially challenged," the
statement said, adding that his reimbursement claims for
security on his home had been appropriate.
Cologne-based Lanxess responded in a statement that while it
was the norm for companies in Germany's blue-chip index DAX
to pay for the protection of board members, Heitmann
had overcharged for upgrading his house.
The company, whose rubber products go into tyres, door
sealants and windscreen wipers, said Heitmann had conceded in
writing there was misconduct in connection with the costs of
security at his house.
When asked whether the former CEO had been put under
pressure, a spokesman said in a statement that Heitmann himself
had offered to alter the severance agreement.
"We are relaxed about the prospect of any lawsuit," he
($1 = 0.7189 Euros)
(Reporting by Frank Siebelt; Writing by Ludwig Burger; Editing
by Mark Potter)