The Stockholm Stock Exchange has referred suspected insider trading of shares of insurance group Skandia, linked to a bid by Old Mutual, to the country's two main financial watchdogs.
Neither the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority (Finansinspektionen) or the National Economic Crimes Bureau (Ekobrottsmyndigheten) will confirm details of the referral, apparently made towards the end of last week, according to local media, but only picked up in the UK when Skandia yesterday issued a release on the matter.
According to a clarification from the Stockholm Stock Exchange's head of oversights Anders Ackebo - published by Skandia yesterday - there is no implied action on the part of either Skandia as a company or its management in the referral to authorities.
"In its report on the stock exchange's notification on Friday's evening editions, Swedish Television (SVT) gave the impression that the notification concerned actions by Skandia as a company and that Skandia's board and management had handled the offer process incorrectly and thereby were guilty of market manipulation. This is not correct."
"Anders Ackebo has clarified in interviews that the matieral in the notification does not point out any specific person or any specific company. According to what is stated in the interviews, the notification is not directed at Skandia as a company," continues the Skandia statement.
"Skandia welcomes the Stockholm Stock Exchange's notification and an investigation of the matters in question by the authorities."
Matts Wilhelmsson, unit head in the market oversight division of the SFSA, confirms that the matter is the responsibility of the NECB, where the stock exchange information now lies.
Eva-Lisa Lennstrand, spokeswoman for the NECB, says she cannot confirm receipt of the case file and that there are no further details of the case currently from that particular authority.
In the Swedish system of reporting suspected economic crimes, the standard procedure is for a case to be referred primarily to the SFSA before it is handed over for further consideration by the NECB, Lennstrand says.
No party has been identified yet by any of the relevant parties – Skandia, Old Mutual, the SFSA or NECB – but if the NECB were to prosecute it is highly likely it would win the case: 90% of cases brought to trial are won by the authority.
Old Mutual tabled its SEK44.9bn (£3.3bn) worth cash and shares bid earlier this month, and is waiting for a reply from the Skandia board by Friday this week.
OM stated on Thursday last week it will proceed with the bid – which represented a 25% premium on Skandia’s share price when announced - even if it is rejected by Skandia’s board. As of the bid announcement on 2 September, OM stated it already had the support of shareholders representing 15.6% of the company’s issued share capital.
If OM is successful in its bid, current Skandia shareholders would own 26% of the bigger combined group. OM says a successful takeover would create a company operating in four key markets – US, UK, Sweden and South Africa – which would have “excellent fit, little overlap, compatible products and similar philosophies.”
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