Marathon Seeks Millions From Employees Who Joined Hosking

  • London investment firm says two men took confidential data
  • Co-founder Hosking started new firm and took team with him

Days after winning a 10.4 million-pound ($12.7 million) lawsuit against co-founder Jeremy Hosking, Marathon Asset Management LLP returned to a London court to pursue even more money from two former employees who joined Hosking’s rival investment advisory firm.

A trial probing how much James Seddon and Luke Bridgeman should pay Marathon for taking some 40,000 computer files as they quit the firm is scheduled for November. The pair say the information they took wasn’t worth nearly as much as the 15 million pounds Marathon claims, as much of it was publicly available.

The case is one of several legal actions tied to the co-founder’s bid to open a new firm in 2012. In addition to winning the case seeking to claw back millions in back pay from Hosking earlier this month, lawyers for the company said at a court hearing Friday that London-based Marathon had settled another claim against four former employees -- including Seddon and Bridgeman -- in September that accused them of “various acts of wrongdoing.”

Marathon is being counter sued by a former consultant Jenny Buchanan, who says she’s owed substantial fees for work she did marketing the fund’s products in South Africa. Buchanan says Marathon withheld payments when she terminated her consulting agreement with the firm.

‘Difficult Period’

“These claims relate to a period that was very difficult for Luke, James and Jenny," a spokesman for Hosking Partners said in a statement. "At the time, their futures within the Marathon global business were far from certain, despite the major contributions that each had made to the business’ success, as we trust will become clear at the trial."

Seddon admits that he placed 33 documents on a Marathon computer for Bridgeman in 2012, but denies any knowledge that his colleague took them plus "thousands of additional documents," Seddon’s lawyers said in court documents. Bridgeman regrets removing the documents, but claims they were generic documents, many of which were publicly available.

The pair subsequently joined Hosking Partners. The suit, filed in 2013, has been delayed by arbitration hearings linked to Hosking’s departure.

‘Appropriate Steps’

“It’s important for Marathon to take appropriate steps to protect its and its client’s confidential and proprietary information," a spokesman for the firm said.

The dispute came to light nine days after Marathon won a claim to claw back 10.4 million pounds in pay from Hosking after a judge ruled that profit share awarded to members of a partnership could be treated as a remuneration and can be forfeited if wrongdoing was proved.

Hosking had accepted wrongdoing, apologized and agreed to pay about 1.3 million pounds plus the bonus forfeiture. 

The London-based asset manager has no connection to Marathon Asset Management LP, the $12.8 billion New York firm specializing in distressed debt.

The case is Marathon Asset Management v Jennifer Buchanan and others in the High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division case no CL-2013-000689

(Adds detail on claim in fourth paragraph.)
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