Change of leadership in Orkla's spirit

Orkla has a multitude of competent management staff and employees. Finn Jebsen has therefore been able to put together a Group Executive Board that emphasizes continuity and innovation and represents a combination of professional expertise and personal qualities. The decision to maintain the management structure, with the Group's top management constituting an Executive Board, as well as the composition of the Executive Board have been arrived at after a process of thorough consideration based on Orkla's fundamental values and business orientation. The process leading up to this decision has been an example of the kind of inclusive leadership we like so much at Orkla.

I am very pleased for the Orkla community. I am certain that cooperation between the Group Executive Board, the senior management of the business areas, trade union representatives and employees will continue to generate profitable growth for the Group.Cooperation with trade union members and the development of Orkla's corporate democracy with strong, independent union representatives have played a significant role in Orkla's development throughout the Group's more recent history. This cooperation has increased our competitive strength and our ability to continuously restructure, and thus our ability to create value for our shareholders.

We are currently going through a period of superficial attitudes as to what value creation means. That was also the case in the Yuppie period in the eighties. Our corporate culture is a safeguard against a short-term, facile approach and keeps us on a steady course that ensures long-term value creation for our shareholders.

For my own part, it has been inspiring and gratifying to spearhead Orkla's development for over twenty years, since I was appointed Deputy Managing Director of Orkla in summer 1977. Orkla holds strong positions both in Norway and abroad, and has a sound, proud corporate culture and considerable competitive strength.

The past few years have been a period of strong internationalisation for our Group. It has resulted in the introduction of new cultures and groups into our community. This has been positive in every respect - it has enriched our work community, while diverse groups have harmoniously been integrated into the Group community. At the same time, internationalisation has been a necessary prerequisite for maintaining our position as a strong, Norwegian company.

Orkla has enjoyed success and encountered opposition. Many of our opponents have goals and values that are quite different from our own. The choice of Finn Jebsen as President and Group CEO means that our basic values, our orientation and our way of working will continue. That is a victory.

Quality in every part of the Group and in each employee is an Orkla hallmark. Finn Jebsen is not just highly qualified professionally, he embodies the very best of qualities when true friendship, support, care and sensitivity are essential prerequisites for coping with life's most difficult moments. His uncompromising demands for scrupulous behaviour represent what is best in the Orkla culture.

The Group Executive Board, consisting of Tom Vidar, Halvor, Finn and myself, have shared joys and sorrows in good times and bad. We have had fun together, consulted with one another and appreciated one another's company. We will continue to do so, but in new roles. Our efforts have been characterised by thoughtfulness and the ability to take action.

I look forward to continuing to work for Orkla in a non-executive position in areas in which the Group Executive Board thinks that I can make a contribution. I would like to take this opportunity to thank employees, trade union representatives and management throughout the Group for all the support that I have experienced in my time as CEO of the Orkla Group.