CEO Fired by Danske Says New Job Running Fund a Perfect Fit

Jan 24, 2014 5:45 am ET

(Updates to add Novo Nordisk dividend estimate in sixth paragraph.)

Jan. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Eivind Kolding, the chief executive officer who was fired by Danske Bank A/S in September, says his new job running the fund behind the world’s biggest insulin maker is a perfect fit for his skills.

Denmark’s largest bank forced Kolding out last year on the grounds that he lacked the acumen needed to run a financial conglomerate. He was at the helm of Danske for only 19 months, having moved there after running the container shipping unit of A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S, Denmark’s biggest company.

In his new role as CEO of Novo A/S, which owns about 70 percent of the voting rights in Novo Nordisk A/S, Kolding will oversee an operation that has as a main task to ensure that the Novo Nordisk Foundation gets proceeds to donate to scientific research. The fund also holds a controlling stake in Novozymes A/S, the world’s biggest industrial enzyme maker.

“What I bring to the table is my experience as a CEO at two major international companies, where I became familiar with all aspects of business,” Kolding, 54, said yesterday in a phone interview. “But what is particularly relevant here is my experience in mergers, financial management, risk management and active ownership.”

Novo A/S was established in 1999 by the foundation, which has as its primary mandate to ensure stable ownership of Novo Nordisk, according to drugmaker’s website. The foundation may waive its controlling interest in the drugmaker in the event of a merger or capital increase.

Campaign Backfired

Novo Nordisk will probably propose to pay a dividend of 4.37 kroner a share, or a total of 9.67 billion kroner ($1.77 billion), when it reports Jan. 30, according to the median of 24 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Ole Andersen, chairman of Danske, removed Kolding after his efforts to rebrand the bank through an advertising campaign backfired. Danske, which replaced Kolding with its head of corporate and institutional banking, Thomas Borgen, has lost 135,000 clients in Denmark in the past 16 months, according to Voxmeter. Customer satisfaction at the bank is the lowest in at least six years, the pollster said this month.

Investors in the bank have fared better. Shares in Danske have risen 25 percent over the past year, beating a 16 percent gain in the 44-member Bloomberg index of European banks. Novo Nordisk stock has risen about 4 percent over the same period.

Kolding, who starts at Novo A/S on May 1, said his “main task is definitely to continue the quite positive development that Novo has had in the last 12 to 13 years. I have ideas, but I will first discuss those with the people at Novo when I start.”

--Editors: Tasneem Brogger, Christian Wienberg