By Jerry Geisel
NEW YORK — Unhappy with the ownership of Buck Consultants LLC, two recently departed top Buck executives — without authorization from the benefit consulting firm's parent — allegedly pursued deals with venture capitalists to sell Buck, according to a lawsuit.
The suit — brought by Affiliated Computer Services Inc., the Dallas-based technology giant that purchased Buck in 2005 — charges that the motivation behind the actions of Howard Fine, Buck's then-chairman of the board and an ACS senior managing director, and Christopher Michalak, then an executive managing director, was "simply for the reason that they personally would like to own Buck instead of ACS owning Buck."
Additionally, the suit charges that Messrs. Fine and Michalak communicated with other employees at New York-based Buck, one of the nation's oldest and largest benefit consulting firms, asking them to resign if ACS didn't sell to a venture capital group that included the two executives.
The suit, filed last month in New York state court, also charges the two made unauthorized disclosures of confidential and proprietary Buck information to outsiders "as part of their attempt to find venture capital financing for a purchase of Buck."
Through their statements and conduct, Messrs. Fine and Michalak, both of whom left the company last month, "falsely portrayed to the financial community, Buck employees and potentially, Buck customers and prospects that Buck ‘is on the auction block,'" according to the suit.
The suit claims the defendants' false statements will likely damage Buck's relationships with current and prospective clients, who might hesitate to do business if they believed Buck were for sale.
An ACS spokesman said the company will "pursue every available remedy we deem appropriate to address this situation."