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May 28, 2002

DNV boss ousted
Helge Midttun yesterday resigned as CEO of classification society Det Norske Veritas. He stepped down amid what Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten describes as "allegations of insider trading, a questionable employment deal and employee unrest."

Midttun stepped down, he is quoted as saying, "so things could settle down around the company."

At issue in the controversy are Midttun's compensation package, details of which were kept quiet when he was hired in 1999. Reportedly it included severance and pension benefits worth nearly $4 million--which is considered very high by Norwegian standards.

What's more, when Midttun was hired from his previous job of CEO of a company called Stento, DNV agreed to buy his holdings in that compan's stock at a higher-then-market price. Reportedly Midttun at that time told DNV that Stento was in take-over talks. These matters have been investigated by the Oslo Stock Exchange and referred by the exchange to Norwegian financial regulators to determine whether insider trading laws have been breached.

Midttun has also been criticized for initially retaining stock in companies such as Royal Caribbean and Brovig that areDNV customers.

Midttun's departure is seen as a victory for DNV's "old guard."

He is succeeded as chief executive by the head of DNV's certification division, Miklos Konkoly-Thege.

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