IBM wants to stop a Brazilian senior executive from joining Microsoft

The new president for Latin America at Microsoft has not managed to start work as his former employer IBM has launched a court case to prevent him from doing so.

After resigning from IBM in mid-May, Rodrigo Kede Lima was supposed to start at Microsoft that same month, as previous incumbent, Cesar Cernuda, prepared to step down and start at cloud data services firm NetApp as president. Cernuda left last Wednesday (1) but Lima was still unable to take over as planned.

In its lawsuit against Lima, the Big Blue demands the repayment of USD 1.3 million in stock options and claims he is breaching his non-compete agreement whereby he had agreed to not seek employment at direct or indirect competitors for a period of 12 months after leaving the company.

The company argues that Lima, as “top 1% of IBM’s highest-ranking executives” would be inevitably exploiting contacts and knowledge of confidential information to win business at Microsoft, in areas including cloud computing. Before leaving IBM, Lima was a general manager for global integrated accounts.

The executive, on the other hand, said in a court statement that his former employer is exaggerating about his knowledge of products and business strategies and that his work at Microsoft would not place IBM in a situation of competitive disadvantage, and that he hasn’t done any business in Latin America since 2018.

Lima also added and that we would be suffering “significant undue hardship” if he is not allowed to work for a year. The next court hearing is scheduled for July 14. IBM did not respond to ZDNet’s requests for comment.

“In general, we do not discuss personal matters related to our team, but we emphasize that we are not interested in any of IBM’s confidential information and we believe that Rodrigo can resume the role in which he was hired here, without violating the terms of his contract with IBM”, Microsoft said in a statement. “We hope that the court will decide as soon as possible when Rodrigo will return to work.”

Lima worked for IBM since the start of his career in the 1990s and reached the top management in 2012. In 2015, the executive left to join Brazilian software firm Totvs as president and stepped down after eight months, only to rejoin IBM as the company’s general manager for Latin America.