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Hexagon's CEO pleads not guilty at Norway insider trading trial

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Hexagon's CEO pleads not guilty at Norway insider trading trial

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OSLO (Reuters) – Hexagon AB <HEXb.ST> Chief Executive Ola Rollen, one of Sweden’s best known business leaders, pleaded not guilty on Monday at the start of a trial for suspected insider share trading in Norway. If convicted, Rollen faces up to six years in prison for an investment in Next Biometrics <NEXT.OL> made in 2015. The transaction did not involve Hexagon itself. “I have a strong desire to testify,” he told the Oslo District Court. Asked by the judge whether he was guilty as charged, a stern-looking Rollen answered “No”. 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 (£12.9 billion). In 2016, shortly before his initial detention by police, he was ranked among the world’s 100 best-performing CEOs by the Harvard Business Review. A purchase of shares in Next Biometrics on Oct. 6 and 7, 2015, made by Rollen’s investment firm, amounted to illegal insider trading, police said, as the firm was also involved in negotiations with Next to take a larger stake at a higher price. When a cash infusion was announced a few days later, Next’s shares surged. A verdict in the case will most likely come some time after the turn of the year, the Oslo court said on Monday. Hexagon’s shares, which have risen by 32 percent this year, traded 1.6 percent lower for the day at 0930 GMT.

(Reporting by Ole Petter Skonnord and Gwladys Fouche in Oslo, writing by Terje Solsvik; editing by Jason Neely/Keith Weir)
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