Telenor ex-CEO Baksaas defends company's decision to terminate consultancy contract

Former Telenor CEO Jon Fredrik Baksaas said it was right that the company removed him from a consultancy role amid ongoing probes into his knowledge of alleged corruption at VimpelCom, in which Telenor holds a 33 per cent stake.

Baksaas defended his successor Sigve Brekke, who has faced criticism for the decision to end Baksaas' tenure as a consultant in early November 2015, some 13 months ahead of schedule. The former chief executive told VG News that he and Telenor's board mutually agreed to end his consulting contract after it emerged he had not disclosed fresh information pertaining to a VimpelCom probe to investigators.

Brekke last week denied suggestions he had let Baksaas down by allowing the former CEO's consultancy role to be ended early. In an email to Norwegian daily Aftenposten, the new CEO made it clear that the decision was taken by Baksaas and Telenor's board, VG News reported.

Baksaas also confirmed he will stand down from his post as chairman of the GSMA in elections this autumn, because he is no longer the CEO of a telecoms operator -- a condition of GSMA board membership.

The GSMA in November told FierceWireless:Europe that it would discuss Baksaas' future following the end of his Telenor consultancy contract. Baksaas' tenure as chairman runs through to December.

Telenor dropped Baksaas from his advisory role at the same time as it temporarily suspended CFO Richard Olav Aa and general counsel Pål Wien Espen as part of an internal investigation being conducted by law firm Deloitte Advokatfirma into the operator's oversight and handling of the VimpelCom stake.

Those suspensions came after the resignation of Telenor Group chairman Svein Aaser in October following pressure from Monica Maeland, Norway's Minister of Trade and Industry. Reports at the time stated that Maeland lost confidence in Aaser after it emerged that he and Baksaas failed to divulge key information at an initial hearing over the VimpelCom matter.

Baksaas told VG News that at the time he believed that information should remain confidential, but conceded he had a better understanding of what was required of him at subsequent hearings.

For more:
- see this VG News article (in Norwegian)

Related articles:
GSMA to discuss Baksaas' future as chairman after Telenor drops him as adviser
Telenor Group CFO falls victim to VimpelCom probe
Telenor CEO hands VimpelCom probe over to external lawyers
Telenor chairman Aaser quits following government pressure
Telenor plans to sell 33% VimpelCom stake worth $2.3B