Ex ad exec sues firm over FB $$
By Claire Atkinson
A former Interpublic exec is accusing the ad giant of bilking him out of gains it made from selling its stake in Facebook.
Ray Volpe, the former CEO of IPG’s Kaleidoscope unit, sued the company, saying he’s owed $381 million for the role he played in bringing IPG and Facebook together — even though the company hasn’t sold all of its ownership in the social network.
Volpe said he “sourced and procured” the investment for IPG, according to a suit filed yesterday in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan.
The company invested $2.5 million in Facebook in June 2006 for a 0.5 percent stake. IPG sold half the stake in August 2011 for $133.5 million. The suit claims it sold the other half as part of Facebook’s IPO in May for a gain of $249 million.
But IPG insiders are scratching their heads because the remaining stake has not been sold, according to a person close to the situation. IPG is bound to silence by its Facebook agreements and won’t be able to sell its holding for a few more months, the person said.
A spokesman for IPG declined to comment on the sale but said of the suit: “The Facebook transaction was entered into at the corporate level, and the claims made by Mr. Volpe are based on self-serving, one-way e-mails sent by Mr. Volpe to IPG management after the fact, in an attempt to garner personal gain from a very successful commercial decision taken by IPG. The claim that IPG would act as his bank on this transaction is absurd, and wholly inconsistent with how we do business. We will defend our position vigorously.”