Confirmit may be headed for new ownership, following a court ruling that shares in the research software firm can be forcibly sold. The ruling is an attempt to recover $320m which the company's Norwegian billionaire owner Alexander Vik owes to Deutsche Bank.
Vik (pictured), who is domiciled in Monaco, has been involved in the contentious legal fight with Deutsche Bank for more than a decade, after his offshore-based derivatives trading company Sebastian Holdings suffered losses during the financial crisis and ended up with several billion kroner owed to the bank. Deutsche has been trying to recover this debt from Vik since he lost a lawsuit against the lender in 2013: at the time, the bank sought to enforce a UK ruling to make Vik disclose information on the whereabouts of his investments, and accused him of stripping Sebastian Holdings of its assets and transferring them to 'closely connected' third parties.
At a court hearing in 2015 Vik, who was one described by Forbes Magazine as 'the most interesting man in the world', denied that he had hidden assets to avoid paying the debt, despite his firm's report and account showing that all his shares in Confirmit had been transferred to one of his relatives. Earlier this week, it was found that Vik's father had 'dumped' shares in Confirmit, and the court ruled that they can now be forcibly sold by Deutsche Bank.
Commenting on the situation, Confirmit CEO Ken Østreng told DRNO: 'It has been common knowledge for many years that Confirmit's sole shareholder is in a legal dispute with Deutsche Bank over a substantial amount claimed by the bank. Confirmit is not in any way involved in the case, and this has no impact on our operations at all. We are merely one of the many assets that Deutsche Bank now seeks to make available.
'A recent ruling in Norway stated that Deutsche Bank has the right to initiate a sale of the Confirmit shares. However, this ruling may be appealed. If the final outcome turns out to be a change of ownership for Confirmit, we are confident that we will attract a new owner who will enable continued increased success in developing the most innovative solutions for market research, customer experience and employee engagement'.
Confirmit is headquartered in Norway, with additional offices in the UK, Russia, Canada and Australia. Until 2008, the firm had been traded on the Oslo stock exchange, but it was taken private by Sebastian Holdings when its market capitalisation reached nearly $69m.
Web site: www.confirmit.com .
All articles 2006-19 written and edited by Mel Crowther and/or Nick Thomas.