Aker says nominees for Kværner board biased against merger

Contractor Aker Maritime AS Thursday opposed Kværner AS's nominations for new company directors on the grounds that the candidates would not be able to offer an objective assessment of ongoing merger discussions between the two Norwegian companies. The directors will be chosen at an annual meeting next week.


By the OGJ Online Staff

LONDON, Apr. 26 -- Norwegian contractor Aker Maritime AS Thursday opposed Kværner AS's nominations for new company directors on the grounds that the candidates would not be able to offer an objective assessment of ongoing merger discussions between the two companies.

Aker said the recommendations for directorships made yesterday by Kværner's election committee were out of line with Aker's call for a "competent and independent board" which would be unbiased in evaluating the proposed merger of the two Norwegian companies' oil and gas operations.

Kværner's Age Korsvold and Morten Sig Bergesen nominated Harald Arnkærn, Svein Rennemo, and Kristian Siem for directorships, as well as proposing the re-election of Ole Enger, Johan Fr. Odfjell, and Kjell Almskog -- the current chief executive -- to the board.

In a statement, Aker said, "The board which has now been proposed does not have sufficient independence from the existing board to credibly undertake such an assessment. The majority of the proposed board has either participated in the present board's handling of the matter, and taken a position on it, or has already made clear their view through the media."

Aker added that until an independent board had had the chance to evaluate its proposed amalgamation, Kværner's shareholders would "not have an objective basis for choosing a strategy."

However, Kværner Chairman Christian Bjelland said the board nominations would "serve the interest of all shareholders."

"This is a good proposal," Bjelland said. "The proposed board will support the group and give the company a mandate to continue the ongoing work to further develop shareholder value."

And CEO Almskog added, "This will be a strong and competent board of directors -- and the proposal has my fullest support."

Kværner is holding its annual meeting next week, when the nominations will be decided by shareholders -- the biggest of which is Aker, with a 17.8% stake.

The two contracting rivals have been locked in a seesaw takeover battle since last July.

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