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'Trust us or sell your shares': Lundin CEO

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16:26 CEST+02:00
The CEO of Sweden-based Lundin Petroluem rejected calls for an independent probe into the company's activities in Africa, telling owners to "sell your shares" if they don't trust Lundin's actions.

"Trust us or sell your shares," Lundin CEO Ashley Heppenstall told Swedish business daily Dagens Industri in an interview published on Thursday.

The comments come in response to a series of reports in the Swedish press which take a critical eye toward the company's operations in Sudan.

The company has come under fire in recent months over accusations that it committed human rights abuses in connection with oil exploration in southern Sudan between 1997 and 2003.

The revelations have been cause for concern for some of Lundin's major shareholders, but calls for an independent investigation into the claims have been given a cool reception by both the Lundin board and top managers.

Speaking with the newspaper, Heppenstall urged owners to withdraw their calls for an independent probe, issuing a sharply worded ultimatum challenging them to sell their stakes in the company if they didn't trust the board's and management's decisions.

According to DI, the call for an independent investigation has been championed by Swedish insurance group Folksam.

However, Heppenstall argued that having owners that don't support the company is harmful for Lundin in the long run and that the company's institutional owners which are based abroad don't support calls for an independent look into the company's activities in Africa.

"As long as we can continue to deliver there will be shareholders that support the company," he told DI.

But the Lundin CEO's dismissive attitude toward the proposal, which Folksam plans to put forward at Lundin's general meeting on Thursday, left representatives for the Swedish insurance group frustrated.

"At the end of the day, Lundin is going to get the owners it deserves," Carina Lundberg Markow, head of external investment for Folksam, told Aftonbladet.

"The majority of our customers think it's good that we don't throw in the towel, but instead continue to pose demands. When the final difficult owner leaves, there won't be anyone left to pose critical questions."

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