Saturday 18 January 2020

Ardagh Glass 'used rival's secret data', competitor claims

Ardagh group executive chairman Paul Coulson
Ardagh group executive chairman Paul Coulson
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Global packaging giant Ardagh is being sued in the United States by a smaller rival amid claims that the company, which has its roots in Irish Glass, benefited from the use of illicitly obtained information and acted with "reckless" and "outrageous indifference".

Saxco International, headquartered in Pennsylvania, claims that one of its own employees, Carson Wright, "intentionally and systematically misappropriated" Saxco's proprietary information before leaving the firm, in order to benefit Ardagh Glass.

Saxco, owned by Texas private equity firm The Sterling Group, claims that Ardagh Glass was aware the information had been misappropriated.

"Ardagh acted intentionally, with malice, and has shown a reckless and outrageous indifference to a highly unreasonable risk of harm to Saxco, and has acted with a conscious indifference to Saxco's welfare," Saxco claimed.

A spokesperson for Ardagh, which is headed by executive chairman Paul Coulson, declined to comment.

Mr Wright was hired by Saxco in 2013 as its sales manager for its US north-west wine region.

"Wright had access to Saxco's confidential and proprietary information," Saxco claims.

Saxco has alleged that another of its ex-employees, Jeff Oberti, had been working with it in California as a sales account manager. Saxco alleges that last November, Mr Oberti began planning to leave Saxco to join Ardagh which, although a rival to Saxco, also supplies glass containers to the smaller company.

Late last year, Ardagh Glass launched a new business unit called Ardagh Direct, which began selling and distributing glass bottles to smaller wineries, in direct competition to Saxco.

Saxco alleges that last January, Mr Oberti left the company to join Ardagh Direct as vice president of sales.

Saxco further claims that Mr Oberti, on behalf of Ardagh, solicited Mr Wright to leave Saxco. Mr Wright left Saxco in January and joined Ardagh Direct.

Saxco has also alleged that Ardagh, through Mr Oberti, misappropriated confidential information.

"Specifically," Saxco alleged, "in the last 24 hours of Mr Oberti's employment with Saxco, Mr Oberti downloaded Saxco's confidential information on to personal USB storage devices."

Saxco launched a separate lawsuit against Mr Oberti in April in California.

However, it's understood that Ardagh will vigorously defend both claims.

Irish Independent

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