OMV supervisory board orders review of CEO's travel expenses

VIENNA (Reuters) - The supervisory board of Austria's OMV OMVV.VI has ordered a review of CEO Rainer Seele's travel expenses and the oil and gas group's sponsorship activities, board chief Wolfgang Berndt said on Thursday.

The move follows a report by website which said Seele’s use of private jets had cost the company 400,000 euros ($432,320) since 2016.

The report also said the partly state-owned company’s sponsorship deal with Russian soccer club Zenit in St. Petersburg, reportedly President Vladimir Putin’s favourite team, cost 25 million euros ($27 million).

Berndt told Reuters that all of Seele’s, as well as his own, travel expenses from 2017 until the end of last year would be reviewed. “And also all sponsoring expenses,” he added.

He defended Seele’s travel expenses, saying he had to take up a contract with a charter airline from his predecessor which he could not cancel when he joined OMV as CEO in 2015. The contract ended last year.

The report on Seele’s expenses is due by the end of June, Berndt said.

OMV has said it cannot comment on the terms of the Zenit sponsorship deal due to the contractual terms.

The company supports many sports associations and cultural events. It is a major sponsor of the Vienna Opera Ball, Austria’s most glamorous event, and helps fund Austria’s ski jumpers, as well as Vienna soccer club SK Rapid.

OMV, which produces a large part of its gas in Russia and has close business ties with Gazprom GAZP.MM, launched a 4 billion euros savings programme for 2020 in March.

Days earlier it agreed to raise its stake in plastics maker Borealis for $4.7 billion, its largest acquisition ever.

Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Mark Potter