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Barnevik leaves Investor over ABB row

Barnevik has lost a job Keystone Archive

The Swedish investment company, Investor, says its chairman, Percy Barnevik, is leaving immediately after the row over money paid to him when he resigned as chairman of ABB in 1996.

Investor’s biggest shareholder, Jacob Wallenberg, said at a news conference on Thursday that he found the level of the payouts paid to Barnevik and to another former ex-ABB CEO, Goran Lindahl, quite undeserved.

“We have reached an agreement with Percy Barnevik that he resigns from Investor’s board of directors, effective immediately,” said Wallenberg.

The vice-chairman, Claes Dahlback, is to take over the helm.

Barnevik received SFr148 million ($87 million) in pension payouts and other benefits when he stepped down as CEO of the Swiss-Swedish technology company, while Lindahl received SFr85 million.

Earlier this week, ABB’s board described the approvals procedures for these payouts as unsatisfactory and has called on the former executives to pay back some of the amounts paid to them.

It added that it hoped an amicable solution could be found, though board member, Robert Jeker, has threatened legal action if Barnevik and Lindahl do not cooperate.

Barnevik, once Sweden’s leading business figure and industrialist, has recently resigned from the boards of both ABB and the steel maker, Sandvik. He remains chairman of the drug manufacturer, AstraZeneca.

The payoffs paid to Barnevik and Lindahl have shocked public opinion in both Switzerland and Sweden and have reopened the public debate on the level of executive salaries and benefits.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR