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Alstom general counsel Andrew Hibbert will leave the French industrial giant this July following a disagreement with chief financial officer Phillipe Jaffre over what should be disclosed in Securities and Exchange Commission filings.
The respected Hibbert has been replaced by Donna Vitter, who was previously general counsel of Alstom’s power division.
Hibbert declined to confirm or deny the reasons for his departure. Former Elf chief executive officer Jaffre and Hibbert are understood to have clashed on the disclosure of crucial risk factors concerning the tiny cracks on gas turbines, which have been blamed for damaging the company. Hibbert’s recommendations were ultimately carried by the company’s auditors, but the seriousness of the argument has led to his departure.
Alstom has since instituted a multibillion-pound rescue plan, which is waiting for approval from the European Commission.
Hibbert will stay on with Alstom until July as adviser to the president because of his in-depth knowledge of nine class action suits that Alstom is fighting in the US.
The fallout from Hibbert’s departure could threaten Lovells’ appointment as the company’s chief adviser. Hibbert was instrumental in the appointment of the UK firm, which is worth £12m-£14m a year in fees. Other key advisers include Shearman & Sterling and Hibbert’s former firm White & Case.
Lovells partner Sharon Lewis said: “We’ve had fresh instructions since Andrew’s departure [from the role of general counsel]. We continue to have a good relationship with the new general counsel Donna Vitter.”