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Grassroots campaign opposes sale of firm

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DOVER — Citizens for a Pro-Business Delaware, a group of more than 600 of the 3,500-plus employees the global translation services company TransPerfect, has organized a grassroots campaign in Delaware to keep the private company from being dissolved.

Delaware Court of Chancery Chief Judge Andre Bouchard ruled the company should be sold to resolve a lawsuit involving the company’s co-founders Philip Shawe and Elizabeth Elting.

Shawe and Elting founded TransPerfect in their New York University dorm room in 1992. They became engaged to be married in 1996, but, in 1999, Elting married someone else. The couple split their business 50-50 and built one of the country’s largest translation firms with 3,500 full-time workers and 10,000 contract translators, proofreaders and editors.

Personal incidents between the two included kicking and an office break-in. Elting eventually asked to buy Shawe out, but they couldn’t agree on terms. They sent four-letter emails to each other. In 2014, the two sued each other for mismanagement, and, because Transperfect is incorporated in Delaware, the case was decided in Chancery Court here. In August 2015 Judge Bouchard ruled the former partners were so deadlocked that the business should be sold.

The employee group released a statement in response: “This ruling is bad for business and bad for Delaware. On behalf of the more than 600 members of Citizens for a Pro-Business Delaware, we are proud to work for TransPerfect, and believe in its strength and its future. Now, thanks to an outrageous mandate by the Delaware courts, we may see the company sold away from the current ownership and management team with which we worked so closely to build this company. Making matters worse, other businesses incorporated in Delaware that have always been protected by the state’s pro-business policies could suffer the same fate. If the governor and the state legislature want to protect Delaware businesses, and ensure future businesses incorporate in the state, they must take action, and they must do so now.”

The group said it is focusing on raising awareness with Delaware residents, elected officials, and other stakeholders, mailing information to 10,000 households in the state and launching a radio campaign and print ads.

And, in a statement, members said have hired local lobbyist Patrick Allen and is actively considering suggesting  legislation to the governor and legislators to block what they termed “judicial overreach” from occurring again.

A spokesman for the group said the effort is not being funded by the company’s owners; the 600 are putting it together as employees. “It’s an impressive group that believes strongly in the company, and are willing to back it up with a  serious campaign,” he said.

The public relations effort is being headed by Tusk Strategies, founded by Bradley Tusk, who ran former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s 2009 re-election campaign, and has worked with Uber and other companies waging high profile business campaigns.

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