Another head rolls at Orkla

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Top management turmoil at one of Norway’s largest companies, Orkla, continued this week with the abrupt departure of a 31-year-veteran who’s been in charge of forming some of Orkla’s most well-known brands in Norway.

Torkild Nordberg, age 54, claims he was fired by the new acting CEO of Orkla, Åge Korsvold, who took over after Orkla CEO Bjørn Wiggen was fired last weekend by Orkla chairman Stein Erik Hagen. When newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported on the firing before it was publicly announced, both Wiggen and Nordberg were surprised and upset. Not least, in Nordberg’s case, because DN also reported that his job was on the line as well.

When Orkla’s new boss failed to reject the report, also that there reportedly had long been dissatisfaction with the job Nordberg did, Nordberg confronted Korsvold. “I asked whether what was in the newspaper was true,” Nordberg told newspaper Aftenposten. An hour later, Korsvold said yes, it was true.

“This was the second time they used a newspaper to report that a boss lost his job,” Nordberg told Aftenposten. “I won’t be part of this.” He thus feels he was fired, while Korsvold suggests he resigned and Hagen claimed he found the situation “sad.”

The end result is a major shake-up within what has been one of Norway’s most solid companies, which already is in the midst of a major transformation from being an industrial firm with interests in chemicals, mining and timber, for example, to being mostly a maker of household products. Among Orkla’s major brands are Pizza Grandiosa, Nora jams and jellies, OMO laundry detergent and candy maker Nidar.

Nordberg claimed he was most worried about his colleagues and Orkla’s 13,000 employees who he thinks now face a news business culture under Hagen and Korsvold.

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