They want to improve corporate governance – by blocking board access for the largest owner

Editorial
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The battle for NTS continues.

With a simple majority of just over 50 per cent, the NTS breakaways, led by the Williksen, Dolmen and Bondø families, propose that the company’s largest single shareholder, Helge Gåsø, be thrown out of the board. Both him and his son, Anders Gåsø.

The plot, which became known through a message late Tuesday night, seems to be at odds with the explanation given for the NTS breakaways bid for the salmon producer:

“The shareholders further want to improve the corporate governance and management of the company.”

Read more: Rebels plot to oust largest shareholder from NTS board

Aslak Berge

Major player
Helge Gåsø, through his wholly owned investment company Gåsø Næringsutvikling, owns 37 per cent of the shares in Rørvik breeder NTS. The second largest owner in the company is Bondø-owned Terboli Invest (after a name change from Vite Invest), with 12 per cent.

NTS’ core business is the fish farming division SalmoNor and the wellboat company Norsk Fisketransport. The company also owns 68 per cent of the large fish farmer Norway Royal Salmon (NRS), and thus has a production capacity of 124,000 tonnes of salmon annually. Only five fish farming companies in the world have larger salmon production.

The fact that by far the largest owner should not even be represented on the board testifies to a very alternative approach to corporate governance.

Blockers
The starting point in the Norwegian Companies Act is that the board is elected by the general meeting. The election is determined by the majority of the votes present. There is considerable flexibility in the election of the board, but it is common practice for the largest shareholders to be represented on the board.

There are several obvious reasons for this.

For a company like NTS, which is in the midst of a significant restructuring, the fact that the largest shareholder will not even sit on the board will present extensive challenges. With well over a third of the votes, Gåsø can easily block strategy and financing plans, mergers, share issues, acquisitions and the sale of assets. This will make the company inefficient and cumbersome.

Above all, the proposal shows cooperation and dialogue have long since been replaced by an open power struggle.

Whether the NTS breakaways will be beaten through their radical board proposal remains to be seen. The general meeting will take place in Rørvik in the morning next Friday.