Ex-Hartleys executives take action

AT least 10 former executives axed from Hartleys’ investment bank operation have taken legal action against the WA-headquartered stockbroker with claims that could amount to millions of dollars.

The group, understood to be from Hartleys’ eastern states’ operations, amount to about half of the 21 of the investment banking staff made redundant last month after the division made a first half loss of $1.4 million.

The cutbacks came with Hartleys’ strategic withdrawal from its national investment banking aspirations in the wake of the losses and the high level involvement of Westpac on the register.

Hartleys is the new name for HP JDV, which was formerly known as Hartley Poynton until it branched into the technology side of the share trading business.

The JDV technology divisions have been much criticised as a distraction, which the company admits has cost at least $20 million in development capital.

But it has scored some goals, including winning a big contract from Macquarie Bank last week to add another blue chip financial services group to its client base.

Sydney-based Actuiti Legal head of industrial relations group Malcolm Davis confirmed he was acting for between 10 and 11 disgruntled former Hartleys employees who were claiming between six and 24 months pay following the loss of their jobs.

Mr Davis confirmed a figure of $3.5 million would be within the range of the total claims but preferred to simply say that millions of dollars were involved.

He said most of his clients, whom he refused to name, had been given about one month’s pay and offered another month’s pay in lieu of a release.

However none of his clients had signed the release and Mr Davis believed they had a strong case in summons filed at the NSW Industrial Relations Commission about two weeks ago.

“These people were highly remunerated people,” Mr Davis said. “I don’t know what Hartley Poynton thought they were doing.”

The lawyer said the circumstances of the cutbacks, with a number of the group informed through speaker phone by Hartleys chief executive officer Tim Moore who was using a mobile telephone, were an element of the case against Hartleys.

But Mr Moore defended his actions, claiming that such cutbacks were normal in most big businesses and that the rumours spread by the press had forced him to communicate the bad news earlier than he had intended.

“Normally we would act in a more measured way,” he said.

“Certainly we had to expedite talking to them.”

Mr Moore also said it was his preference to deliver the news to each individual but one of the executives being made redundant had requested a group of the investment bank staff be told together.

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