Dec 3, 2001
Røkke priority: Sell Philly
A meeting of Kværner shareholders last week elected a new board of directors with Kjell Inge Røkke at its helmand according to Oslo daily Aftenposten, Røkke's first priority is to sell Kværner Philadelphia. The proposal for a refinancing plan was withdrawn from the agenda and therefore not put to the vote.
Aftenposten says Røkke is now firmly in charge at Kværner and is promising a turnaround. Investors and the banks, relieved to avoid bankruptcy court, have expressed optimism over Røkke's prospects.
"Topping his agenda," says Aftenposten, "is a trip to the US, where he wants to unload Kværner's loss-making ownership of the shipyard in Philadelphia. Røkke has called the Kværner Philadelphia Shipyard an 'indefensible' drain on Kværner and claims the investment has cost the firm $220 million despite subsidies from the state of Pennsylvania." ;
The newspaper quotes Røkke as saying he intends to travel to Philadelphia "and not return until the problem is solved." Røkke reportedly said he has no choice but to cut the losses because "Kværner is burning through an incredible amount of cash here."
Other board members elected were Helge Lund, Anders Eckhoff, Tore Tønne, Reidar Lund and Yngve Hågens
Røkke (43) founded and was the main shareholder in Resource Group International (RGI), which merged with Aker in November 1996. In February 2000 Røkke took over all the shares in Aker RGI, and is now the companys sole shareholder. He is chairman of the board of Aker Maritime, Norway Seafoods and Aker Yards. He will now step down as chairman of Aker Maritime. Røkke is a Norwegian citizen resident in Oslo.
Lund is a former consultant at McKinsey & Co who has been deputy president and CEO of Aker RGI since 1999. He is deputy chairman of the Aker Maritime board, a post he will now relinquish.
Lund was managing director of Transocean ASA for 12 years and played a key role in bringing about the merger with Sonat of the US and the foundation of Transocean Offshore Inc. He subsequently built up the rig company Prosafe ASA, first as managing director and in the last two years as working chairman. He holds a number of board positions, mainly in the industrial and offshore sectors.
Tønne was Minister of Health in Norway's Labor government until it lost power earlier this year.
Hågensen is the recently retired head of the Norwegian Federation of Trade Unions (LO).
Eckhoff was appointed a Norwegian Supreme Court barrister in 1995 and works mainly in the fields of corporate law, insolvency law, privatization of state companies and procedure.