Sweden’s Alecta was underwhelmed by the public turnout at yesterday’s meeting of its supervisory board, though the whole country could witness on live television the panel’s chair explaing why owner representatives exonerated ousted CEO Magnus Billing – despite scandalous losses.

The embattled SEK1.2trn (€105bn) occupational pensions giant held the regular annual general meeting (AGM) of its supervisory board in a larger venue than usual yesterday afternoon, in anticipation that many more of its customers than normal might choose to attend, given the recent uproar around the company.

Since it revealed SEK19.6bn of losses last month on three US niche banks, Alecta’s head of equity portfolio management and chief executive officer have been fired as an investigation into events continues.

A spokesman for Alecta told IPE that in fact only 17 members of the public had attended the meeting, although normally none of the firm’s individual savers go to such meetings.

Attendees were confined yesterday to those normally present at supervisory board AGMs, he said – primarily the supervisory board itself, the Alecta board and the company’s executive board, including its new acting CEO, Katarina Thorslund.

Alecta board

Ingrid Bonde, chair of Alecta; Kenneth Bengtsson, chair of Alecta’s supervisory board; and Peter Hellberg, deputy chair of the supervisory board

At the meeting, the board and former CEO were granted discharge, Alecta announced.

Responding to questions at the special news briefing which followed the AGM, Kenneth Bengtsson, chair of the supervisory board, was reported by Sweden’s national broadcaster SVT as saying: “There was nothing this afternoon that justified the board of directors not granting discharge from liability for the board in accordance with the auditors’ clear recommendation, and also for the CEO.”

He said the supervisory board had to rely on its auditors, who he said were very close to “all of this”.

“They have recommended us to grant discharge, and it would take a lot for us not to do that,” he said, according to the SVT report.

Ingrid Bonde, chair of Alecta’s board – who has taken on the role of “working chair” since the management crisis began – said at the media briefing that Alecta’s 2.6 million customers should should feel secure in the fact that the company had a secure financial position, and that their pensions were not threatened.

“We take what has happened very seriously and hope that we can earn this money back in our active management,” she said, according to SVT.

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