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Bridge Information Systems Inc. and Reuters Group settled their suit against SunGard Data Systems Inc. on Aug. 1. The suit, consolidated earlier this week from two separate suits filed by Bridge and Reuters, accused SunGard of poaching three executives from Bridge Trading, the securities-trading subsidiary SunGard failed to win in an April bankruptcy auction of Bridge assets. No cash changed hands as part of the settlement but SunGard agreed to some stringent hiring restrictions through 2003. Under terms of the deal, SunGard is prohibited from hiring any Bridge employees from any Bridge units, except employees that have been terminated by either Bridge or Reuters, until March 1, 2002, according to a Reuters spokeswoman. From March 1, 2002, to Aug. 31, 2002, SunGard will be allowed to hire just one employee every two months. From Sept. 1, 2002, to March 1, 2003, SunGard can hire one employee each month. After that, the restrictions are lifted. The complaints alleged SunGard used insider information to steal away the executives, violated a confidentiality agreement and interfered with Reuters’ purchase of Bridge assets. The confidentiality agreement was signed by SunGard back in February as part of its bid for Bridge assets. New York-based Bridge filed for bankruptcy Feb. 15. U.K. financial news giant Reuters, which claimed interference and unfair competition, was seeking at least $50 million in punitive damages as well as a permanent injunction against SunGard to block any further alleged employee poaching from Bridge. Bridge filed its suit against SunGard on July 18, just two days after the bankruptcy court approved SunGard’s $16.2 million purchase of Bridge’s retail broker information business, most of its value-added-reseller business and its equity interest in Prescient Markets Inc. Judge David P. McDonald of the Eastern District of Missouri Bankruptcy Court in St. Louis issued a temporary restraining order July 20 blocking Wayne, Pa.-based SunGard from trying to lure away any Bridge employees. Reuters filed its complaint the following week on July 24. Reuters is in the process of offering jobs to workers at the Bridge assets it is buying and has received 850 acceptances so far — and one no thank you — out of approximately 1,300 positions offered in the U.S. The U.S. Department of Justice is still reviewing Reuters’ $275 million purchase of most of Bridge’s North American assets. Reuters expects to close the deal by the end of September. In other Bridge employee news, Judge McDonald postponed until Aug. 29 a ruling on a proposed $1.2 million severance package for Bridge workers. The judge had already postponed the matter from July 17, noting at the time that employees who could be affected by the plan had not received notice of or been given time to respond to the proposal. Copyright (c)2001 TDD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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