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Norwegian billionaire seeks to become REC board chair, company grows

by CHARLES H. FEATHERSTONE
Staff Writer | February 9, 2021 1:00 AM

The second-richest man in Norway wants to be the next chairman of REC Silicon’s board of directors.

In a notice published Sunday, REC announced Aker Horizons, the company’s largest shareholder with a 24.7% stake, is asking for an extraordinary meeting to reorganize the board of directors and make Kjell Inge Røkke, the chair of Aker Horizons’ parent company, Aker ASA, chairman of the REC board.

No date has been set for the meeting.

Aker Horizons specializes in investing in companies that produce renewable energy, such as wind and solar power.

According to Forbes, Røkke owns 67% of Aker ASA and had a net worth of $5.4 billion as of Monday, making him the second-wealthiest man in Norway and the 1,267th richest man in the world.

Current Board Chair Annette Malm Justad would become deputy chair, current member Auden Stensvold would remain on the board, and board members Espen Klitzing and Inter Berg Orstavik would leave the board, and be replaced by Lene Landøy, director of strategy and business development with Aker BP, an offshore oil and gas exploration and production subsidiary of Aker ASA.

Røkke “got his start selling fish off a boat in Seattle” before returning to Norway, where he built a fleet of ships and “a reputation as a ruthless corporate raider,” according to Forbes.

REC Silicon has manufacturing facilities in Moses Lake and Butte, Montana, to produce solar and electronics-grade silicon for use in making solar panels, silicon chips and flat panel displays.

The Moses Lake facility, at Wheeler Road and Road N, has been shuttered for the last two years as a result of a trade dispute with China, which produces more than 90% of the world’s solar panels.

However, Oregon-based startup Violet Power is looking at building a solar panel production facility in Moses Lake to get access to REC’s silicon. If constructed, the facility would be the first in the United States to make solar panels from American-made silicon in several decades. And, REC Silicon’s Moses Lake facility would reopen.

On Monday, REC Silicon shares on the Oslobørs, Norway’s stock exchange, closed 15% higher, at 22.18 kroner per share ($2.65). Since early December, the price of the Norway-based silicon producer’s shares have more than doubled.

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached at cfeatherstone@columbiabasinherald.com.