September 26, 2003

Roekke faces liquidity crunch

Kjell Inge Roekke faces a financial crunch that could lead to his losing control of Aker-Kvaerner, whose shipbuilding interests include the Kvaerner Philadelphia Shipyard.

On Tuesday, Orkla ASA disclosed that it had received a warning from Roekke's Norway Seafoods Holding (NWSH) that "there is a possibility that the loan granted to the company by Orkla will not be repaid when it falls due on September 30, 2003. However, NWSH has not finally confirmed that it anticipates defaulting on the loan from Orkla.

Orkla has written to the Board of Directors of NWSH emphasizing that Orkla expects the remainder of the loan to be repaid on the due date

Norwegia daily Aftenposten says Orkla's board chairman Johan Fr. Odfjell has previously crossed swords with Roekke over the latter's takeover at Kvaerner.

Aftenposten reports that Orkla sent out "an aggressive notice to the stock market that they would go after Roekke directly if his company Norway Seafoods Holding (NWSH) did not make good on its debt next Tuesday."

"If the loan from Orkla to NWSH is not honored Orkla will initiate all necessary operations to secure its economic interests. Orkla has the right to sell Kjell Inge Roekke's personal assets for that part of the loan that is eventually not met," Aftenposten reports the notice as saying.

According to Aftenposten, this means that Orkla can demand the sale of anything from Roekke's shares in Aker Kvaerner to his yacht in order to raise funds to cover the debt.

Aftenposten says Norwegian SeafooldHoldings issued a "sober" press release announcing negotiations with Orkla and predicting a solution by the end of September.

According to Aftenposten's sources a potential solution is that Orkla receive shares in Roekke's Aker RGI instead of cash.

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