(Reuters) – The former chief executive of James Hardie Industries on Monday rejected the Australian building materials giant’s claims about concerns over his conduct and management style, and said he was “blindsided” by his firing last week.
The world’s top maker of fibre cement products on Friday terminated CEO Jack Truong, saying dozens of top executives had threatened to quit due to his conduct which, though not discriminatory, breached its code of conduct.
Executive Chairman Mike Hammes later said on a conference call that he had urged Truong to change his behaviour but a “sincere change” had not occurred.
“I was blindsided by the termination and unequivocally reject the assertions made by Mr. Hammes and the company,” Truong said in an emailed statement early Monday.
“I’m … proud of the progress we made in building a culture of inclusion and respect with our more than 5,000 devoted employees. Based on employee and customer feedback, it was clear that they recognised our progress,” Truong said.
Truong’s departure came at a time James Hardie has ridden a pandemic housing boom to record profits, and highlighted the growing importance firms are putting on executive conduct beyond just earnings and dividends.
Brokerage Citi said in a note it saw little cause for concern in the short-term from Truong’s departure, but the company’s strategy may have a different feel over the medium-term when Hammes retires.
“With a new CEO and chairman combination, investors should be open to the possibility of changes down the track,” the brokerage said.
(Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)