Hexagon CEO Rollen found not guilty of insider trading in appeals case

OSLO (Reuters) - The chief executive of Swedish industrial technology group Hexagon, Ola Rollen, was found not guilty of insider share trading, an Oslo appeals court said on Wednesday, upholding the verdict of a lower court.

FILE PHOTO: Ola Rollen, Chief executive of the Swedish engineering group Hexagon AB gestures during a news conference in Zurich, Switzerland, June 13, 2005. REUTERS/Siggi Bucher/File Photo

Prosecutors had asked for an 18-month prison term for Rollen over his 2015 purchase of shares in Norway’s Next Biometrics, a transaction which did not involve Hexagon.

One of Sweden’s best known business leaders, Rollen has always denied any wrongdoing and continued to run Hexagon, which he has led since 2000, transforming it into a $19 billion technology market leader.

“I am yet again relieved by the court’s verdict, confirming what I and my lawyers have stated from the very beginning; that I did nothing wrong,” Rollen said in a joint statement with Hexagon.

The case concerned Rollen’s purchase of Next shares on behalf of Greenbridge, an investment firm he co-founded.

Prosecutors said this was illegal because Greenbridge was involved in talks to take a bigger stake in Next at a higher price.

Rollen’s lawyer argued that his client did not possess privileged information at the time of the share purchase and that the transactions were motivated by his own independent analysis of Next Biometrics.

As CEO of Hexagon, Rollen has helped transform the company from a sprawling conglomerate with a market value of a few billion crowns, through a steady stream of acquisitions and high growth.

The prosecution said in a statement that it would go through the verdict and assess whether it will appeal.

Trading in the shares of Hexagon and Next Biometrics had ended for the day before the verdict was released.

“I speak on behalf of the Board and everyone else who has stood united with Ola since the beginning of this ordeal that we were never in doubt about Ola’s innocence and, consequently, that the Norwegian courts would reach a firm conclusion to dismiss all allegations,” Gun Nilsson, chair of the board of Hexagon said in a statement.

Reporting by Terje Solsvik and Gwladys Fouche; Editing by Susan Fenton