Goldman Hires Ex-NATO Chief to Guard $1.5 Billion Danish StakePeter Levring
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has hired Anders Fogh Rasmussen, a former prime minister of Denmark and ex-NATO chief, to help tackle the political hurdles the bank has encountered since buying into a state utility last year.
Rasmussen, who governed Denmark from 2001 until 2009 and stepped down from NATO last year, is being brought on as a consultant at the Wall Street bank as the government prepares to release a series of confidential documents on Goldman’s purchase of a stake in Dong Energy A/S.
Michael Ulveman, who works with Rasmussen in their newly formed consultancy, confirmed the appointment after it was reported by local newspaper Berlingske. Sebastian Howell, a spokesman for Goldman, declined to comment.
Finance Minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen said this week he will grant access to documents on the bidding process for Dong that his predecessor, Bjarne Corydon, said were too sensitive to share with a parliament committee appointed to oversee the deal. Goldman’s merchant banking unit paid about $1.5 billion in 2014 for an 18 percent stake in Dong. Danish pension funds ATP and PFA A/S also invested in the utility as part of the same accord.
The agreement caused a rift in the former Social Democrat-led coalition, culminating in the departure of a junior member, the Socialist People’s Party. The administration was ousted in June elections, paving the way for a Liberal government led by Lars Loekke Rasmussen. He served as finance minister under Fogh Rasmussen and was also prime minister from 2009 until 2011.
Rene Christensen, a spokesman for the Danish People’s Party which lobbied to have the documents released, said there’s no risk their contents might trigger political demands that a new deal be negotiated.
“Altering the deal isn’t really what it’s about,” Christensen said by phone. “It’s about having had a finance minister who said he couldn’t trust the committee.” Denmark’s lawmakers deserve to know “what was so important about this deal that we weren’t allowed to see more details,” he said.
Martin Hintze, a partner at Goldman who sits on the board of Dong, was quoted by Berlingske as saying the bank has no objections to having the documents made public.
PFA, Denmark’s biggest commercial pension fund, said on Wednesday it sees no reason to keep the documents secret.
“As we’ve said in the past, we in principle believe that it’s not appropriate to disclose the contents of a confidential set of negotiations and a confidential agreement,” Anders Damgaard, an executive at PFA, said in a statement. “But we have no problems with the deal being presented to the finance committee.”
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