OSLO, Norway -- Hydro chairman Jan Reinås has resigned, effective immediately. Vice chairperson Elisabeth Grieg takes over as interim chair for the Hydro board.
Reinås says he made the decision after meetings with the Norwegian Ministry of Trade and Industry, which is Hydro's largest shareholder.
"The minister made it clear that my resignation would be a condition for him to help put an end to the discussion about the board of directors' handling of the termination of Hydro's stock option program," says Reinås. "I experienced this as pressure from one shareholder."
"After evaluating the situation, I decided to resign as chairman," he says. "My hope is that this will make it easier for Hydro's corporate assembly in its consideration of the board's handling of the stock option program."
"It remains my belief that the board has had the authority to terminate the previously allocated stock options, which Hydro's shareholders have known about since 2001, when the program was introduced," Reinås says.
"It is our responsibility to respect the agreements that the company has made, and I maintain that the board, after having evaluated this thoroughly, has come up with a decent way to terminate the stock option program. Hydro will continue to compensate its top leaders with a combination of fixed salary and bonuses based on performance, which is in line with the Norwegian state's guidelines for executive pay."
On Aug. 4, Hydro's board asked the corporate assembly, the board's governing body, to consider the board's handling of the termination of the company's stock option program.