Hexagon CEO's share trades were no crime, court hears
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[November 01, 2017]
By Ole Petter Skonnord
OSLO (Reuters) - Hexagon Chief Executive
Ola Rollen did not commit insider share trading when he bought shares in
Next Biometrics in 2015, the Swedish businessman's lawyer told a
Norwegian court on Wednesday.
Rollen, one of Sweden's best known business leaders, went on trial this
week in Oslo for alleged insider share trading related to a 2015
investment in Norway's Next Biometrics. The transaction did not involve
Rollen, who denies wrongdoing, faces up to six years in prison if found
The case follows a string of scandals among leading companies in Sweden
involving alleged bribery, offshore tax havens and the misuse of
corporate money that have tarnished the country's clean image.
On Wednesday, defense lawyer Christian B. Hjort said his client did not
possess privileged information about Next Biometrics at the time of the
share purchase and that the transactions were motivated by his own
independent analysis of the company whose products include fingerprint
"His plans to buy shares in Next was not insider share trading according
to the law," Hjort told the court, in his first remarks to address the
prosecution's opening statement.
"It is not an abuse when the investment is made according to his own
plans ... What is against the law is when you trade in the market based
on other people's plans."
A purchase of some 284,000 shares in Next Biometrics on Oct. 6 and 7,
2015, made by Rollen's partly-owned investment firm Iskossala, amounted
to illegal insider trading, police said, as Iskossala was also involved
in negotiations with Next to take a larger stake at a higher price.
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Lead prosecutor Marianne Bender in Ola Rollen insider trading case
trial arrives at the district court in Oslo, Norway October 30,
2017. REUTERS/Gwladys Fouche
When a cash infusion was announced a few days later, Next's shares surged 83
Hjort argued the shares jumped because of Rollen's investments and his strong
standing among Swedish retail investors, who started to buy when they saw his
"Without Rollen there would be no rise in the share price. It was created by his
own investment. That's why there is no abuse of insider information," said Hjort.
On Monday, the prosecution played an audio tape of Rollen discussing with a
broker buying Next Biometrics shares via Iskossala and also discussing the
potential rights issue.
In charge of Hexagon since 2000, Rollen discarded its old businesses and turned
the company into a force in measurement technology and related software, making
it one of Sweden's biggest firms worth $17 billion (£12.7 billion).
The trial continues.
(Writing by Gwladys Fouche; Editing by Keith Weir)
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