One of Norway’s largest companies, scandal-plagued fertilizer producer Yara International has replaced Bernt Reitan as Chairman of the Board after just two years in the job. Board members Elisabeth Harstad and Juha Rantanen also decided not to seek re-election, and were both replaced at Yara’s annual general meeting on Monday.
It has been a turbulent few years for the Yara leadership, after four former executives were accused of gross corruption, reported newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN). In January, Yara accepted a record bribery fine of NOK 295 million (USD 48.3 million), while the four will face a lengthy corruption trial early next year. Some shareholders have also demanded Reitan step down.
“It has been five interesting years for Yara’s board and a demanding exercise to be the chairman these past two years,” the 66-year-old commented through Esben Tuman, Yara’s communications director. “I live in the USA through the winter months and have other directorships and activities there. Based on an overall consideration of my workload and desire to have more time with my family, the conclusion after careful consideration was that the time had come not to stand for re-election to this demanding role as Yara chairman.”
Reitan’s replacement is 62-year-old Leif Teksum. He finishes his current role at DNB this summer, where he has responsibility for a portfolio of Norwegian and Swedish clients. He has also headed DNB’s Norwegian business market and international operations. The other new board members elected were Hilde Bakken, who is in management at energy company Statkraft, and John Thuestad who heads aluminium producer Sapa Extrusions Europe.
Harstad served on the Yara board since 2006. Rantanen, like Reitan, had only been a board member since 2012. Hilde Merete Aasheim and Geir Isaksen were both re-elected, with Aasheim to become the new deputy chair.