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Ex-Glencore Trader Can’t Sue for Shares Worth $1 Million

The Glencore International Plc logo sits on a sign outside the company's headquarters in Baar, Switzerland. Photographer: Gianluca Colla/Bloomberg
The Glencore International Plc logo sits on a sign outside the company's headquarters in Baar, Switzerland. Photographer: Gianluca Colla/Bloomberg

A Glencore International Plc trader fired over an alleged alcohol problem can’t sue the company to recover about $1 million in shares that were awarded when he was hired, a U.K. court ruled.

Judge Richard Seymour said he was “troubled” by Andrew Kearns’s lawsuit because it didn’t state a valid legal claim. “I am afraid we are not there,” he said in dismissing the claim today.

Kearns, an oil trader who earned about $500,000 a year, sued Glencore seeking the shares, worth at least $1.2 million, after he was fired for missing important meetings because of what the company said were alcohol problems. Kearns is still suing for wrongful dismissal, which would result in a smaller amount in damages.

“He is a married man with three children and his reputation is on the line,” Ahmed Miah, Kearns’s lawyer, said in court. “What is said about him by Glencore is entirely wrong, unreasonable and untrue.”

Kearns said in court documents he didn’t have an alcohol problem and was singled out because he disagreed with managers. He’s the latest banker to use London’s courts to try to recover lost pay after a victory by more than 100 former Dresdner Kleinwort bankers against Commerzbank AG.

Decimal Point

“This is an industry where a mistaken decimal point might result in losses of a very substantial nature,” Jonathan Cohen, Glencore’s lawyer, said in written arguments. “An employer cannot be expected to allow an employee who allows himself to become inappropriately inebriated to remain in the workplace.”

Kearns missed meetings after an evening out with clients on a Singapore business trip, Baar, Switzerland-based Glencore said in court documents.

The trader said that Glencore owed him 25 share options, allocated when he joined the company, that were due to vest before his October 2010 dismissal. The commodities company revoked his shares when he was fired.

Wrongful dismissal is where an employer breaks the terms of a contract during the dismissal process, according to a U.K. government website.

Peter Grauer, the chairman of Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, is a non-executive director of Glencore Xstrata.

The case is Andrew Stephen Kearns v. Glencore UK Ltd., High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division, HQ12X03294

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