Tag Archives: Judicial Process / Court Cases / Court Decisions

Huawei drops lawsuit against U.S. over seized equipment: court filing

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FILE PHOTO: The Huawei logo is pictured at the IFA consumer tech fair in Berlin, Germany, September 5, 2019. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

(Reuters) – China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd has dropped a lawsuit against the U.S. government after Washington released telecommunications equipment it had seized on suspicion of violations of export controls, according to a court filing on Monday.

Huawei [HWT.UL], which has been placed on a U.S. trade blacklist since May, had sued the Commerce Department and other U.S. government agencies for seizing its equipment in Alaska in 2017 en route back to China after a lab test in California.

Huawei said the U.S. government returned the equipment in August after confirming no export license was required and it decided to drop the suit.

It said the company was disappointed the U.S. government refused to provide a full explanation of what Huawei calls “arbitrary and unlawful” detention of the equipment for two years.

The fate of Huawei, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment maker and a national icon in China, has become crucial in an escalating trade war between Beijing and Washington.

Huawei still faces multiple criminal charges in the United States for allegedly breaking U.S. export sanctions to countries including Iran. It is trying to challenge its addition to the U.S. National Defense Authorization Act in an ongoing lawsuit, which it says had restricted its business in the United States “unconstitutionally”.

Washington says the Chinese company’s telecoms gear could be used by Beijing to spy, an allegation Huawei has denied.

The Trump administration added Huawei to the so-called entity list in May, barring it from buying needed U.S. parts and components without U.S. government approval and threatening to disrupt its operations.

Reporting by Sijia Jiang in Hong Kong; Additional Reporting by Diane Bartz in Washington; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

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Bayer mediator dismisses report of $eight billion Roundup settlement

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NEW YORK/FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Bayer AG has not supplied to pay billions of {dollars} to settle claims in the USA associated to the Roundup herbicide, mediator Ken Feinberg mentioned, dismissing a report back to that impact which drove its shares as a lot as 11% increased.

FILE PHOTO: Monsanto Co’s Roundup is proven on the market in Encinitas, California, U.S., June 26, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Picture

“Bayer has not proposed paying $eight billion to settle all of the U.S. Roundup most cancers claims. Such an announcement is pure fiction,” Feinberg mentioned in an e mail on Friday. “Compensation has not even been mentioned within the world mediation discussions.”

Bayer shares, which had shed a few of their features earlier than Feinberg’s assertion, retreated additional and closed up 1.7% at 64.63 euros.

Bayer, which acquired Roundup and different glyphosate-based weedkillers as a part of its $63 billion takeover of Monsanto final yr, declined touch upon the preliminary Bloomberg information report and on Feinberg’s response.

Bayer Chief Govt Werner Baumann final week mentioned the corporate would contemplate settling with U.S. plaintiffs solely on affordable phrases, and if it “achieves finality of the general litigation”.

He added on the time the group was “constructively participating” in a court-ordered course of with mediator Feinberg on the circumstances heard in federal courtroom. Many of the pending circumstances, nevertheless, have been filed with U.S. state courts.

Feinberg added that any efforts by Bayer towards a complete settlement have been tied in with the mediation proceedings overseen by him. “These are all a part of the identical mediation course of.”

Bayer shares have misplaced greater than a 3rd of their worth, or roughly 30 billion euros ($34 billion), since final August when a California jury within the first such lawsuit discovered Monsanto ought to have warned of the alleged most cancers dangers from Roundup.

HIGH EXPECTATIONS

The German medicine and pesticides firm has engaged in negotiations with plaintiffs’ legal professionals, two sources accustomed to the matter instructed Reuters.

“The issue is, how do you get the plaintiffs to climb down from their very excessive expectations? Not one of the jury verdicts to this point have been favorable for Bayer,” one of many sources mentioned, including that talks have been centered on fundamental questions corresponding to how one can deal with potential future claims.

Bayer mentioned on Friday that the following U.S. glyphosate lawsuit initially scheduled to be heard in St. Louis, Missouri, this month could be postponed to Jan. 27, 2020, and {that a} following St. Louis case slated for September had additionally been postponed.

The German firm might profit from having circumstances heard within the metropolis the place Monsanto was headquartered and the place Bayer manages its world seeds enterprise. However Missouri can be identified for juries that usually hit firms with large damages.

Bloomberg mentioned the delays had been pursued by Bayer to permit for undisturbed settlement talks.

The preliminary unfavorable courtroom rulings within the first three glyphosate circumstances, heard in California, have at occasions dragged Bayer’s market worth under what it paid for Monsanto, though the shares at the moment are buying and selling above that stage.

The corporate, which says regulators and in depth analysis have discovered glyphosate to be protected, has beforehand mentioned it was banking on U.S. appeals courts to reverse or tone down three preliminary courtroom rulings which have to this point awarded tens of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} to every plaintiff.

Bloomberg cited three sources accustomed to the discussions as saying Bayer’s legal professionals have been in search of an accord to resolve all present and future circumstances. Talks over circumstances which have but to be filed have been notably difficult, the report added.

Whereas Bayer has indicated it may pay $6-$eight billion, plaintiffs’ legal professionals need greater than $10 billion to drop their claims, the report mentioned.

FILE PHOTO: The emblem of Bayer AG is pictured on the facade of the historic headquarters of the German pharmaceutical and chemical maker in Leverkusen, Germany, Could 14, 2019. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay/File Picture

An estimate of a $20 billion hit from the litigation has beforehand been mirrored within the share value, whereas a possible litigation settlement legal responsibility was within the mid single-digit billion greenback vary, Financial institution of America analysts mentioned in observe.

They saved a “impartial” ranking on the inventory, citing uncertainty over Bayer’s fortunes within the appeals course of – with the primary appeals verdict anticipated by the top of the yr – and whether or not a settlement may very well be achieved earlier than that.

The variety of U.S. plaintiffs blaming Roundup and different glyphosate-based weedkillers for most cancers had continued to rise by 5,000 to 18,400, Bayer mentioned final week.

Further reporting by Tina Bellon; Enhancing by David Evans and David Holmes

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Bayer could benefit from home advantage in St. Louis Roundup cancer trial: experts

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ST. LOUIS (Reuters) – Bayer AG (BAYGn.DE), facing an upcoming trial in St. Louis over allegations that its Roundup weed killer causes cancer, has recruited Missouri-based expert witnesses to make its case in a place where it has century-old roots but where juries often hit companies with huge damages.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Bayer AG is pictured at the facade of the historic headquarters of the German pharmaceutical and chemical maker in Leverkusen, Germany, May 14, 2019. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

Four expert witnesses Bayer is seeking to admit hail from Missouri universities, and some legal experts said the company is trying to clinch its first favorable Roundup verdict by emphasizing its reputation as a major local employer.

Bayer on Tuesday announced it would create an additional 500 “high-paying” jobs in the St. Louis area. The Bayer unit that makes the glyphosate-based herbicide, the former Monsanto Co, was founded in St. Louis in 1901. Monsanto employed 5,400 full-time employees in the St. Louis area as of May 2018, according to company statements.

The trial in St. Louis County Circuit Court, expected to begin on Aug. 19, was brought by Illinois resident Sharlean Gordon, who says she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after using Roundup for around 14 years at her home. It is the fourth trial over Roundup and the first one outside of California, where three juries hit Bayer with verdicts as large as $2 billion. Bayer is appealing those verdicts.

Bayer denies glyphosate or Roundup cause cancer, saying decades of studies have shown glyphosate to be safe. The company said it looked forward to presenting the scientific evidence to juries. It said the experts in the upcoming St. Louis trial are at the top of their field and were selected for their expertise, not their Missouri ties.

The Germany-based company has lost nearly 40 billion euros ($33.75 billion) in market valuation since the first Roundup jury verdict in August 2018. Bayer last month announced it had set up a committee to help resolve the litigation, saying it would “constructively engage” in court-mandated mediation talks.

NEW WITNESSES

Bayer has said in court papers and hearings that juries in California’s traditionally liberal Bay Area, where the first three trials took place, were unfairly influenced by news coverage of the trials and harbored negative attitudes toward Monsanto in part because of its development of genetically modified seeds.

The company’s experts in those cases came mostly from states other than California. In the St. Louis trial, Bayer is so far seeking to admit a total of 14 scientific expert witnesses. None previously testified in the Roundup litigation.

Of the more than 13,400 Roundup claims nationwide that have yet to go to trial, about 75% have been filed in St. Louis city or county courts, according to plaintiffs’ lawyers. Those courts have a history of issuing large punitive damages against companies and have often been criticized by business groups for issuing favorable plaintiffs rulings.

By suing in the county where Bayer’s crop science business is headquartered, plaintiffs can also take advantage of procedural rules allowing them to compel live testimony from executives who work locally. In the California trials, jurors only saw video depositions of Monsanto executives.

David Noll, a professor at Rutgers Law School, said Bayer appeared to be hiring local experts to appeal to St. Louis jurors. “(They) are not seen as hired guns, flying in from afar, but … can explain the case in a way local jurors understand,” Noll said.

But Alexandra Lahav, a law professor at the University of Connecticut, said Bayer could simply be using new experts that the company thinks would have a better rapport with the jury and “not necessarily because the experts are local.”

Counting on a more favorable jury pool in a company’s backyard is not a new tactic.

New Jersey-based Merck & Co (MRK.N), which in the early 2000s faced thousands of lawsuits by patients over its Vioxx painkiller, won several trials in New Jersey, which plaintiffs lawyers at the time attributed to the company’s strong ties to the state.

Merck in 2013 settled some 27,000 Vioxx claims for $4.85 billion.

Reporting by Tina Bellon in St. Louis; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Matthew Lewis

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Ryanair Irish pilot union to decide on strike ballot next week

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FILE PHOTO: Passengers disembark a Ryanair flight at Dublin International Airport in Dublin, Ireland. Aug 23, 2018. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

DUBLIN (Reuters) – Members of Ryanair’s Irish pilot union are to decide next week whether to join British colleagues in holding a ballot on strike action, according to a memo distributed to members.

Ryanair pilots in Britain, the Irish airline’s largest market, last week announced a ballot that could lead to strike action in late August, citing disagreements over pay and conditions.

Ryanair pilots who are members of the Irish Airline Pilots Association (IALPA) will meet in Dublin on Tuesday to decide whether to hold a ballot for “industrial action up to and including strike action”, with voting to begin on or before Thursday, July 25, the memo said.

It did not say when possible strike action would take place.

Ryanair, Europe’s largest low-cost carrier, suffered a series of damaging strikes last year after the carrier bowed to pressure in late 2017 to recognize unions for the first time.

Management say significant progress has been made since, with collective labor agreements concluded with a number of pilot unions throughout Europe.

But IALPA said in the memo that management had failed to agree pay, terms and conditions for directly employed pilots. The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) last week said issues included pensions, maternity benefits and a fair, transparent pay structure.

Ryanair, which says it offers better conditions than low-cost rivals for Boeing pilots, declined to comment on the union action.

On Tuesday, Ryanair said it had been forced to halve its growth plans for 2020 due to delays in the delivery of Boeing’s (BA.N) grounded 737 MAX jet and planned to start talks with airports and unions about downsizing or closing some operations from November 2019.

Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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Amazon founder Bezos’ divorce final with $38 billion settlement: report

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FILE PHOTO: 2018 Vanity Fair Oscar Party – Arrivals – Beverly Hills, California, U.S., 04/03/2018 – Amazon CEO Jeff and wife MacKenzie Bezos. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

(Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) founder Jeff Bezos’ divorce from his wife of 25 years, MacKenzie Bezos, was finalized by a Seattle-area judge on Friday, paving the way for her to receive $38.3 billion worth of Amazon stock, Bloomberg reported.

In April, Amazon, the world’s biggest online retailer, said in a filing that 4% of its outstanding stock or 19.7 million shares would be registered in MacKenzie Bezos’ name after court approval of the divorce.

The couple announced their plan to divorce in a joint Twitter statement in January, causing some to worry that Jeff Bezos could wind up with reduced Amazon voting power or that he or MacKenzie would liquidate large position.

He retains a 12% stake worth $114.8 billion and remains the world’s richest person, Bloomberg said. MacKenzie Bezos has said she would give him voting control of her shares.

MacKenzie in May pledged to give half her fortune to charity to join the “Giving Pledge,” a campaign announced by billionaire Warren Buffett and Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) co-founder Bill Gates in 2010.

Reporting by Maria Ponnezhath and Mekhla Raina in Bengaluru; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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Samsung in hot water over splashy Australian phone ads

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SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s consumer watchdog has sued Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s (005930.KS) Australian unit for allegedly misleading consumers by promoting water-resistant Galaxy smartphones as suitable to use in swimming pools and the surf.

FILE PHOTO: A model demonstrates the waterproof function of Samsung Electronics’ new smartphone, Galaxy S7 Edge, during its launch ceremony in Seoul, South Korea, March 10, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/File Photo

The world’s largest smartphone maker did not know or sufficiently test the effects of pool or saltwater exposure on its phones when ads showed them fully submerged, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) lawsuit says.

The case is the first filed by a major regulator and could result in multi-million dollar fines. It centers on more than 300 advertisements in which Samsung showed its Galaxy phones being used at the bottom of swimming pools and in the ocean.

“The ACCC alleges Samsung’s advertisements falsely and misleadingly represented Galaxy phones would be suitable for use in, or for exposure to, all types of water … when this was not the case,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said in a statement on Thursday.

Samsung said it stood by its advertising, complied with Australian law and would defend the case.

The South Korean electronics giant has spent heavily on advertising to rebuild public faith in its premium smartphones following the costly recall of its fire-prone Galaxy Note 7 devices in 2016.

It is due to announce preliminary quarterly earnings on Friday, when it is widely expected to flag a profit plunge due to falls in chip prices.

HOT WATER

Samsung’s water resistance claims came under heavy scrutiny as early as 2016 when influential U.S. magazine Consumer Reports said the Galaxy S7 phone – which appears dunked in a fish tank in commercials – had failed an immersion test.

The company attributed that to a manufacturing defect, affecting a small number of phones, which it soon fixed. But customers online continued reporting problems, forum comments show.

Some consumers damaged their phones when exposing them to water and Samsung had refused to honor warranty claims, the ACCC said in the lawsuit, though Samsung said it complied with all of its warranty obligations under Australian law.

The regulator also said Samsung’s advice to some Galaxy model users that the phones were not suitable for beach or pool use suggested the firm considered water could cause damage.

“Samsung showed the Galaxy phones used in situations they shouldn’t be to attract customers,” Sims said.

“Samsung’s advertisements, we believe, denied consumers an informed choice and gave Samsung an unfair competitive advantage.”

The ACCC alleges law breaches occurred in more than 300 advertisements. If proven, each breach after 1 Sept. 2018 can attract a fine of up to A$10 million ($7 million), triple the benefit of the conduct or as much as 10% of annual turnover.

Breaches prior to 1 Sept. 2018 can attract penalties as high as A$1.1 million. Rival Sony settled a U.S. class action over similar claims for its Xperia smartphone range in 2017, promising refunds where the phones had failed.

Reporting by Tom Westbrook in SYDNEY. Additional reporting by Ju-min Park in SEOUL; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Stephen Coates

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U.S. intelligence says Huawei funded by Chinese state security: report

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(Reuters) – U.S. intelligence has accused Huawei Technologies of being funded by Chinese state security, The Times said on Saturday, adding to the list of allegations faced by the Chinese technology company in the West.

A Huawei logo is pictured during the media day for the Shanghai auto show in Shanghai, China April 16, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song

The CIA accused Huawei of receiving funding from China’s National Security Commission, the People’s Liberation Army and a third branch of the Chinese state intelligence network, the British newspaper reported, citing a source.

Earlier this year, U.S. intelligence shared its claims with other members of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing group, which includes Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, according to the report bit.ly/2KT7ztd.

Huawei dismissed the allegations in a statement cited by the newspaper.

“Huawei does not comment on unsubstantiated allegations backed up by zero evidence from anonymous sources,” a Huawei representative told The Times.

The company, the CIA and China’s Foreign Ministry did not respond immediately to requests for comment.

The accusation comes at a time of trade tensions between Washington and Beijing and amid concerns in the United States that Huawei’s equipment could be used for espionage. The company has said the concerns are unfounded.

Authorities in the United States are probing Huawei for alleged sanctions violations.

Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer and daughter of its founder, Ren Zhengfei, was arrested in Canada in December at the request of the United States on charges of bank and wire fraud in violation of U.S. sanctions against Iran.

She denies wrongdoing and her father has previously said the arrest was “politically motivated”.

Amid such charges, top educational institutions in the West have recently severed ties with Huawei to avoid losing federal funding.

Another Chinese technology company, ZTE Corp 0763.HK, 000063.SZ, has also been at the center of similar controversies in the United States.

U.S. sanctions forced ZTE to stop most business between April and July last year after Commerce Department officials said it broke a pact and was caught illegally shipping U.S.-origin goods to Iran and North Korea. The sanctions were lifted after ZTE paid $1.4 billion in penalties.

Reuters reported earlier this week that the United States will push its allies at a meeting in Prague next month to adopt shared security and policy measures that will make it more difficult for Huawei to dominate 5G telecommunications networks.

(This version of the story clarifies in sixth paragraph that China’s Foreign Ministry did not respond to request for comment)

Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Macfie

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French court finds Bayer’s Monsanto liable for farmer’s sickness

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PARIS/LYON (Reuters) – A French court has ruled that Monsanto was liable for the sickness of a farmer who inhaled one of its weedkillers, in another legal setback for the Bayer-owned business over health claims.

In the latest stage of a decade-long legal tussle, the appeals court in Lyon on Thursday found in favor of farmer Paul Francois’ claim that Monsanto’s Lasso weedkiller had made him sick and that the product’s labeling had been inadequate.

Francois, 55, says he suffered neurological problems, including memory loss, fainting and headaches, after accidentally inhaling Lasso in 2004 while working on his farm.

“Mr Francois justifiably concludes that the product, due to its inadequate labeling that did not respect applicable regulations, did not offer the level of safety he could legitimately expect,” the court said in its ruling.

The latest verdict, however, did not determine compensation for the farmer, which will now be considered by another court in Lyon.

Francois is seeking about 1 million euros ($1.1 million) in damages.

Bayer, which acquired Monsanto in a $63 billion deal last year, said it was considering its legal options, including an appeal before France’s highest court.

French cereal farmer Paul Francois, head of the Phyto-Victims association, attends a news conference, after the verdict in his appeals trial against U.S. Monsanto firm, in Paris, France, April 11, 2019. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

The German chemicals group added that crop-protection products “do not pose a risk for human health if they are used according to the terms of use set out in their regulatory approval”.

Mr Francois had won rulings against Monsanto in 2012 and 2015 before France’s top court overturned the decisions and ordered the new hearing in Lyon.

“We are all happy to have won but it came at a heavy price,” Francois told reporters in Paris.

“It’s a big sigh of relief. It’s been 12 years of fighting, 12 years during which I had to put my whole life on hold.”

Lasso was banned in France in 2007 after the product had been withdrawn in some other countries.

It used a different active substance to glyphosate, the chemical contained in Monsanto’s best-selling weedkiller Roundup and the target of lawsuits in the United States over alleged cancer links.

The company has been found liable in two trials in California brought by cancer sufferers who have been awarded tens of millions of dollars in damages. Bayer is appealing against those rulings.

Slideshow (3 Images)

The legal troubles surrounding glyphosate have contributed to Bayer losing about 30 billion euros in market value since last August. The group’s chief executive on Thursday said it was “massively affected” by the litigation.

After the announcement of the decision, Bayer’s shares extended a fall to trade about 1.5 percent down before recovering some of the losses.

($1 = 0.8874 euros)

Reporting by Catherine Lagrange in Lyon, Simon Carraud and Gus Trompiz in Paris; Additional reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide; Editing by Jane Merriman and David Goodman

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Swedbank chairman quits over money laundering scandal

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STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Swedbank Chairman Lars Idermark has quit only a week after the lender’s chief executive was ousted over her handling of a money laundering scandal, saying the controversy threatened to distract from his role as head of forestry group Sodra.

FILE PHOTO: Swedbank Acting CEO Anders Karlsson and Chairman of the Board Lars Idermark attend a news conference in Stockholm, Sweden March 28, 2019. REUTERS/Johan Ahlander/File Photo

The bank, Sweden’s biggest mortgage lender, had fired its CEO Birgitte Bonnesen last week only an hour before a heated annual shareholder meeting marked by disgruntled investors rounding on her handling of the money laundering allegations.

Allegations against Swedbank, largely reported by Swedish TV, have linked it to a scandal at Danske Bank, which faces potential lawsuits, fines and sanctions after admitting last year that 200 billion euros ($225 billion) of suspicious payments had flowed through its Estonian branch between 2007 and 2015.

“Following recent strong debate about Swedbank and questions about the bank’s control of suspicious money laundering in the Baltics, I have concluded that the media attention is not compatible with my CEO role at Sodra,” Idermark said in a statement on Friday.

“Therefore, I have decided that the best alternative is to leave the position as chair of Swedbank with immediate effect.”

In connection with last week’s meeting, where many investors were vocal in their criticism of the bank’s management, third-largest shareholder Alecta had warned it could demand further dismissals if the board did not take immediate action to restore confidence in the bank.

“It’s a welcomed and expected decision, but it’s shouldn’t have taken so long; it would have been better if he resigned before the AGM,” Swedish Shareholders’ Association chief Joacim Olsson told Reuters.

Olsson called on the bank to put all cards on the table, including internal investigations into its dealings in the Baltics.

Alecta on Friday said that the Swedbank nomination committee should continue to strengthen the board.

“They need to be thorough, but it shouldn’t take too long,” an Alecta spokesman said.

Both Bonnesen and Idermark had been under fire for the bank’s communications and how they have handled the allegations, which have sparked a four-way investigation by regulatory authorities in Sweden, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Swedbank shares, meanwhile, have lost about a third of their value.

The shares were unchanged at 146.50 Swedish crowns by 0805 GMT on Friday, having recovered from a seven-year low of 127.2 crowns set on March 29 when the departure of its CEO was announced.

The committee in charge of the bank’s executive appointments said it would intensify work on strengthening the board, including finding a new chairman. The board said it would call a special shareholder meeting to confirm any appointment.

($1 = 0.8908 euros)

Reporting by Helena Soderpalm and Johannes Hellstrom; Additional reporting by Johan Ahlander; Editing by David Holmes and David Goodman

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