Picture: REUTERS/ARND WIEGMANN
Picture: REUTERS/ARND WIEGMANN

An executive who was paid about 16,195 (about R315,000) a month by LafargeHolcim to do nothing failed to persuade a court to force the cement maker to fire him with a payout of about $2m (about R35m). Timing was his undoing.

When his employer Lafarge announced in 2015 a staff-buyout programme as part of its merger with Holcim, Antoine Zenone hoped for a golden handshake. But the company said he wasn't eligible and French judges have said non - three times in a row.

The Paris appeals court ruled that Zenone couldn't benefit from the plan because he had agreed to an expatriate position in Singapore. That suspended his French employment contract and excluded him from buyout offers made to Lafarge's domestic staff.

Zenone was seeking about $2.3m and until recently had been paid €16,195 a month by Lafarge without having to work, according to the court ruling.

When Zenone returned from his posting as CEO of Lafarge's Singapore branch, the company offered him a project manager post but he declined.

The world's two largest cement makers merged in 2015. As part of the tie-up, Lafarge told staff representatives in May 2015 that about 380 jobs would be cut worldwide.

Just two days earlier, Zenone wrote an e-mail, cited in the court case, that he agreed to take the Singapore post. Had he replied two days later, he might have been considered for a buyout.

Zenone later said he was misled into taking the Singapore job and asked to get back on a French contract.

He told Lafarge in mid-2016 that he had only agreed to the posting because he believed it meant eventually becoming country CEO for operations in the Southeast-Asian state.

The argument did not convince LafargeHolcim or the court.

Bloomberg