Aker Solutions up despite “legal threat”
April 15 – Shares in offshore contracting giant Aker Solutions rose over five percent early Wednesday despite persistent reports the government, a shareholder, was considering legal action over its forced support of a billion-dollar investment in five other companies in the Aker ASA sphere.
Yesterday, board member Heidi Petersen suddenly resigned from the board and a company communique confirmed the five companies Aker was making Aker Solutions buy into were part of a long-standing plan to bolster the storied engineering group and clear up the business of Aker’s versus Aker Solutions’s.
Still, the government looked determined Wednesday to pursue court action if a general assembly of Aker Solutions isn’t convened over a business deal many see logic in. Aker Solutions ASA now looks set to call an assembly.
Aker Oilfield Services, a recent creation of Aker’s, is, meanwhile, in for billions of dollars of investments, with up to two-thirds financed by Aker Solutions. The government was assured some its Aker Oilfield shares were not being bought from Aker ASA, putting down fears that industrial magnate Kjell Inge Roekke alone was being enrichened for the transaction.
In its legal defence, Aker Solutions now says that, legally, Aker Solutions ASA The Group is not the buyer of shares in the five companies. It’s Aker Solutions AS — The Company, and that ostensibly explained why there was no general meeting of shareholders to call.
The point undermines legal points discussed aloud in favour of the government. Who’s right in the Aker sale to Aker Solutions has been a subject of lively public debate in Norway since April’s Easter break began.
Aker and Aker Solutions leadership assert the time to discuss the five-company investment on April 1st came and went at a board meeting on March 31, as the company announcement that Peterson was leaving shows.
“We understand Heidi Petersen’s choice … and can only regret that she did not choose to take part in the Board’s discussions at their meeting on 30 March,” a communique from Aker Solutions said.