Nobel Biocare Receives Board Proposal From Shareholder

Nobel Biocare Holding AG, the world’s second-biggest dental implant maker, said a former vice chairman at larger rival Straumann Holding AG proposed himself and two Siemens AG executives for seats on the Nobel board.

Oskar Ronner, a Nobel Biocare shareholder, proposed himself, Cheryl Benini-Leland and Rolf Renz as directors, the Glattbrugg, Switzerland-based company said in a statement today. Nobel said it will interview the candidates and the board will make a recommendation “in due course.”

The nominations may be an effort to unify the board, which has suffered from disagreements between Swiss and Scandinavian directors, Daniel Jelovcan, an analyst with Cheuvreux in Zurich, said in a phone interview. The company moved its headquarters to Switzerland from Sweden in 2002. Ronner, 68, served as vice chairman of Basel, Switzerland-based Straumann from 2000 to 2010, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“It is well known that the board at Nobel Biocare was split in the past,” Jelovcan said. “Oskar Ronner is looking to turn around the company and with that, the share price. If it’s more solid at the board level then it will be better for the company in the future.”

Nobel shares rose 5 percent, the biggest jump since Aug. 6, to 9.50 Swiss francs in Zurich. They have plunged 81 percent in the past five years, compared with a 57 percent drop for Straumann.

Recession Effect

Nobel and Straumann have been hurt by reduced demand for implants because of the recession and increased unemployment. On Jan. 4, Straumann announced the appointment of Marco Gadola as chief executive officer to “revitalize growth, even in this challenging environment.”

Nobel’s share price rise “has nothing to do with the fundamentals of the company,” Sibylle Bischofberger Frick, an analyst with Zuercher Kantonalbank in Zurich, said in an interview. “I think the more important thing is that there is a hope and a dream now that a strong shareholder is pushing the company to make changes.”

Ronner was CEO of Elektrowatt AG, and moved to Siemens AG after the German company acquired Elektrowatt’s building controls and security divisions in 1998. Benini-Leland is senior vice president of a building technology unit of Siemens in Switzerland and Renz, 57, is chief financial officer of Siemens Southwest Europe, according to Nobel.

Annual Meeting

Ronner and Renz didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment. Benini-Leland declined to comment when reached by phone. Matthias Kraemer, a spokesman for Siemens, also declined to comment.

Nobel separately nominated a former Straumann executive, Franz Maier, 48, for the board. Shareholders will elect board members at the annual meeting March 28.

Sueha Demokan, a spokesman for Nobel, said the company received Ronner’s proposal as it was preparing the Maier nomination.

“It’s way too early to make a judgment,” he said by phone. The board is obligated to review the proposal from Ronner, who owns less than 3 percent of shares and whose holding is private, Demokan said.

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