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Head rolls in Sweden’s private jets scandal

A major corporate scandal involving the “excessive” use of private jets claimed a fresh victim on Monday as the main owners of investment giant Industrivärden blocked the under-fire CEO Anders Nyrén from taking over as chairman.

Head rolls in Sweden’s private jets scandal
Anders Nyrén attends SCA's annual general meeting in Stockholm on April 15th 2015. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT.

Industrivärden’s owners Handelsbanken and Lundbergs withdrew their support for Nyrén, saying they “do not consider it appropriate” for him to take the reins.

Reacting to the move, Industrivärden said it had decided to remove Nyrén from the chief executive post. He will step down on May 6th and will be paid two years’ wages, worth 21 million kronor ($2.43 million). 

Anders Nyrén said he would not be commenting on his forced departure from Industrivärden. 

The vacant chairman’s post is instead expected to go to Fredrik Lundberg, a 63-year-old businessman listed by Forbes in March 2015 as Sweden’s 13th richest person, with a net worth of $3.7 billion. 

Carl Rosén, the head of the Swedish Shareholders’ Associated, welcomed the move. 

“This isn’t just about the SCA scandal; it’s also about his role as chairman of Handelsbanken,” he said, in reference to the exuberant company culture at the forestry and paper firm SCA, which the investment company owns a huge chunk of. 

“We hope the new chairman Fredrik Lundberg understands that Industrivärden has to be a lot more open to outside impulses and smarter as an investor,” Rosén added.

Another of Sweden's top businessmen, Sverker Martin-Löf, quit as chairman of Industrivärden in January after a series of revelations from newspaper Svenska Dagbladet. Nylén was slated to take over instead of him.

Industrivärden said in January it was reshuffling its board following the reports of "excessive" use of private jets, and wives and children accompanying executives on foreign business trips including to the Olympic Games in London in 2012. 

It was also claimed that managers' families had been taken to a hunting lodge owned by SCA.

Martin-Löf initially insisted that the trips and perks were in line with company rules and global industry standards.

But Industrivärden later admitted it had been "influenced by the recent debate" adding that it was reviewing past conduct at the firm as well as planning to introduce new restrictions and limits on its holding company's senior managers.

The scandal made global headlines, with the Wall Street Journal calling it "one of the biggest shake-ups of corporate Sweden in decades", while The Financial Times said the country had flown into "a corporate storm" and cited company insiders speaking of a holding firm "that had at times lost touch with reality".

Industrivärden was formed in 1944 to manage shareholdings of Handelsbanken.

SEE ALSO: How private jets took down a Swedish giant

COLOMBIA

Swedish firm SCA in Colombian diaper probe

A company owned by scandal-hit Swedish industry giant SCA is suspected of having been part of two secret cartels to push up the price of, among other things, toilet paper and diapers in Colombia, according to a Swedish newspaper.

Swedish firm SCA in Colombian diaper probe
A company partly owned by a Swedish firm is being investigated for alleged diaper cartels. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

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The companies involved are alleged to have entered into secret deals on the prices as well as quality of their products, reported Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter on Tuesday. They are part of an ongoing investigation by Colombian authorities.

Swedish forest and paper group SCA owns 50 percent of one of the firms, Productos Familia, which is a market leader in the Colombian soft paper industry.

The company, which among other things produces diapers and toilet paper, is accused of having been involved in starting these suspected cartels in 1998 and 2000.

“We take all these suspicions seriously. Familia cooperates fully with authorities to assist the investigation. The probe concerns activities up until 2013 and extends to, apart from Colombia, other countries in South America. It is yet too early to say exactly what and which countries are part of this,” SCA sustainability officer Kersti Strandqvist told Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter.

Stockholm-based SCA is Europe's largest private owner of forest land and manufactures paper, mainly to be used for personal care products.

The reports come as the company struggles to restore its reputation after reports of “excessive” use of private jets by its corporate heads.

READ MORE: How private jets took down a Swedish industry giant

Earlier this year, it was claimed that managers' families had been taken to a hunting lodge owned by SCA and that spouses and children had accompanied executives on foreign business trips, including to the Olympic Games in London in 2012.

The scandal caused unprecedented upheaval to Sweden's boardrooms, with four of its biggest companies – Handelsbanken, Industrivärden, SCA and steelmaker SSAB – all receiving new chairmen earlier this year.