Former CEO Matthew Milton remained tight-lipped. “I have been advised by counsel not to discuss this,” he said.

Crane America was one of Demag’s largest and most profitable foreign subsidiarys in 2006 and is one of the largest distribution outlets for Demag equipment in the US.

Nikolai Juchem, head of corporate communications at Demag, confirmed that “during the early days of January 2007, five members of the senior management team of CAS resigned.” But he added that they gave no specific reasons for their departure from the company.

Demag admitted it has initiated legal proceedings against the defecting senior managers, and others who appear to have acted in concert with them, “as a result of the circumstances and timing of their departure.”

John Paxton of Demag US has been named interim CEO.

Juchem said: “Thanks to the support of the loyal and hardworking CAS employees, the business continues to run smoothly.”

According to its website, CAS has provided electrical and mechanical services in the US for industrial customers for over 75 years.