February 8, 2012 / 2:55 AM / 7 years ago

Taiwan's Acer sues former CEO over move to Lenovo

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan computer maker Acer Inc has sued its former chief executive, Gianfranco Lanci, saying he breached a non-compete clause in an agreement covering his departure from the company in 2011.

Lanci left Acer abruptly at the end of March last year after a disagreement with other board members over the strategy needed to counter the runaway success of the tablet market, which has cannibalized Acer’s profits.

He joined rival PC maker Lenovo Group Ltd as a consultant late last year to help develop its consumer business with a focus on Europe.

Acer said in a statement late on Tuesday that it filed the lawsuit in a court in Milan and was also seeking damages from Lanci, who is Italian and currently resides there.

It did not say how much it was seeking. The agreement covering Lanci’s departure had a 12-month non-compete clause, it said.

“We believe Mr. Lanci has clearly breached the terms of the non-compete agreement he entered into willingly,” the statement said. “This is about Acer defending a binding legal agreement with its former employee. We are taking legal action against him in order to protect Acer’s rights and interests.”

In a separate statement on Wednesday, Lenovo said it did not comment on pending litigation as a matter of policy, but added: “We are confident that our relationship with Mr. Lanci meets all legal requirements.”

Lanci said after his departure that he left because the board wanted more focus on operations in Taiwan when he believed the company had to look abroad. Acer’s chairman, JT Wang, responded at the time that Lanci had “hurt company’s business foundation.”[ID:nL3E7GA16N]

Reporting by Jonathan Standing in Taipei and Lee Chyen Yee in Hong Kong; Editing by Richard Pullin and Matt Driskill

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