Former Centerview banker sues firm for records over pay clash

FILE PHOTO: Exterior view of the building in which boutique investment bank Centerview Partners has leased an office space in Paris, France January 24, 2020. REUTERS/Maya Nikolaeva/File Photo

(Reuters) - David Handler, a veteran banker who had built Centerview Partners' technology advisory business, has filed a lawsuit against his former employer to obtain records that would help determine how much he should have earned.

The lawsuit, filed this week in the Delaware Court of Chancery, came after Handler launched his own technology-focused mergers and acquisitions advisory firm in Silicon Valley.

Handler is seeking access to Centerview's books and records, including the firm's financial statements from 2008 to 2022, so he can work out his fair compensation, according to the lawsuit.

Centerview's co-founders, Blair Effron and Robert Pruzan, offered Handler an "oral" agreement in 2012 that changed how much he was entitled to as a partner, Handler's lawsuit states. Handler had received the terms of his employment in writing when he joined Centerview in 2008, according to the complaint.

He started asking for financial information about Centerview earlier this year after Effron and Pruzan asked him to propose a new arrangement to replace their oral agreement, in a bid to "try to force Handler out," according to the complaint.

Handler sued Centerview after it denied his partnership status and refused to hand over the information he sought, the complaint states.

"We respectfully disagree that David Handler has any entitlement to the books and records that he demands, and we will defend our position," a spokesperson for Centerview said in a statement.

A spokesperson for Handler declined to comment.

Handler joined Centerview in 2008 from UBS Group AG and had been leading its technology investment banking practice on the West Coast, advising high-profile clients including Cisco Systems Inc and Qualcomm Inc..

Earlier this week, Handler launched a new M&A advisory firm, Tidal Partners, based in Palo Alto, California, along with his former colleague at Centerview, David Neequaye.

(Reporting by Krystal Hu in Los Angeles; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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