November 2, 2017 / 4:18 PM / a year ago

Accused Hexagon CEO plans to remain investor in Next Biometrics, court hears

* Says Next right to focus on fingerprints for credit cards

* Says everyone will have fingerprint credit cards in 4 years

* Denies wrongdoing in insider trading case

By Ole Petter Skonnord

OSLO, Nov 2 (Reuters) - Hexagon CEO Ola Rollen said Norwegian fingerprint sensor firm Next Biometrics was on track to win a share of the billion-dollar credit card market in coming years despite ups and downs the last two years.

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 Next Biometrics. The transaction did not involve Hexagon itself.

Rollen, who denies wrongdoing, faces up to six years in prison if found guilty.

During his first day of testimony, Rollen explained how he was confident Next Biometrics would rise in value in the year ahead.

Greenbridge, his partly owned investment firm, is the biggest investor in Next Biometrics with a 17-percent stake.

Next’s share price jumped 85 percent to 89 crowns on Oct. 9, 2015 after Rollen’s investments was made public but has since been very volatile and dropped to 38 crowns per share in February after a share issue.

The shares closed down 0.4 percent at 63.75 crowns on Thursday.

“Am I worried? No, I am not,” Rollen told the court. “Next has been a risky operational investment all the time but I am convinced that we will all have fingerprint cards on our credit cards in four years’ time.

“So we will continue being a shareholder in Next.”

The prosecution alleges that a purchase of shares in Next Biometrics on Oct. 6 and 7, 2015, made by Rollen’s investment firm, amounted to illegal insider trading, as the firm was also involved in negotiations with Next to take a larger stake at a higher price.

Rollen and his lawyers have argued that he did not possess privileged information about Next at the time of the share purchase, and that the transactions were motivated by his own independent analysis of the Norwegian company.

The trial continues. (Editing by Gwladys Fouche and Keith Weir)

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