Wells Fargo sues insurance unit bidder over exec poaching

WILMINGTON, Del, July 27 (Reuters) - Alliant Insurance Services Inc is using confidential information obtained during a failed bid for Wells Fargo & Co’s commercial insurance business to poach top sales executives, according to a lawsuit filed by a Wells Fargo unit.

The lawsuit, filed on Wednesday in Delaware’s Court of Chancery, alleges that Alliant launched an “aggressive campaign” to hire insurance sales executives from Wells Fargo shortly after the bank agreed to sell its business, known as WFIS, to USI Insurance Services in June.

The sale of WFIS, or Wells Fargo Insurance Services USA Inc, is expected to close later this year. The third-largest U.S. bank is focusing on core banking products and services as it tries to recover from a sales scandal last year.

“As a result of Alliant’s actions, WFIS has already suffered and will continue to suffer irreparable harm to its business, revenues, and employee retention at a uniquely vulnerable period of WFIS’ corporate existence,” said the complaint.

Alliant, which is based in Newport Beach, California, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

WFIS is seeking an injunction to prevent Alliant from poaching its executives, disgorgement of any unjustified gains from the recruitment drive and unspecified damages.

Alliant joined the bidding for WFIS earlier this year and signed a non-disclosure agreement, which prevented it from soliciting WFIS staff for 18 months, according to the complaint.

Alliant had access to information about WFIS sales executives, their employment agreements and revenue generated by its 100 largest customers, among other details, according to the lawsuit.

In addition, Alliant in June hired a former WFIS executive vice president who is believed to be using confidential WFIS information to target and solicit top sales producers, according to the lawsuit, which did not identify the executive.

Alliant’s chairman and chief executive, Tom Corbett, is believed to be meeting with WFIS sales executives and directly participating in the recruitment drive, according to the lawsuit.