Skandia rebels hold out against Old Mutual

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The Independent Online

The largest remaining minority shareholders in Skandia, the Swedish insurer, knocked back Old Mutual's hopes of securing more than 90 per cent of the company yesterday, as they insisted they would hold on to their stakes, and demanded a minimum of three seats on the Skandia board.

The rebels, led by the Second Swedish National Pension Fund (SSNPF), said their combined size entitled them to a say in the company's management, and called on Old Mutual to ensure no motions were passed at company meetings without the backing of 90 per cent of investors. They also demanded that they be allowed to nominate at least three of the eight Skandia board members, and have access to all data relating to company transactions.

"It is important to all minority shareholders, foreign and domestic institutional investors and small shareholders that the ground rules are clearly established," Petter Odhnoff, at the SSNPF said.

Investors have until Thursday to accept Old Mutual's £3.4bn bid for Skandia, after which the offer will become unconditional. By the end of last month, the South African group said it had the support of almost two-thirds of the company's investors. Although it is expected to muster extra support before the 12 January deadline, it is thought investors representing more than 20 per cent of the company will hold out.

Old Mutual said yesterday: "We welcome the acknowledgement by the SSNPF that ownership of Skandia is changing, and we are looking forward to fruitful discussions in the future with all Skandia stakeholders."