Mediation of human rights complaints against Aker companies not successful

The mediation of human rights complaints about AkerBP’s merger with Lundin Energy has not been successful. Three South Sudanese and five European organizations had submitted complaints in May 2022 that AkerBP and Aker ASA had breached the OECD Guidelines, the Norwegian Governments standard for responsible business conduct. They argued that the Aker companies had not conducted adequate human rights due diligence on the merger between AkerBP and Lundin Energy – a key OECD requirement – and that the structure that was chosen for the merger would forever deny justice to victims of war crimes. The Norwegian National Contact Point, that handles complaints about breaches of the Guidelines, found the complaints admissible and initiated a the mediation process. Unfortunately, this did not resolve the issue.

Before its merger with AkerBP, Lundin Energy was split into two legal entities, one comprising 98% of the company, and another one with 2%. The small one, Orrön Energy, was would own Lundin’s legacy in South Sudan, including the war crimes trial and all related risks and liabilities. The large entity merged with AkerBP to form a combined company, called AkerBP. AkerBP is now the second largest oil producer in Norway. Despite that fact that 98% of Lundin is now AkerBP, AkerBP denies any links with Lundin other than its oil assets. This way, the merger would have separated the shares of the Lundin family and other shareholders in Lundin Energy from Lundin Energy’s painful past.

The eight organizations argue that AkerBP is a combined company. As it comprises the essence of Lundin Energy, it holds its human rights legacy too. They argue that human rights legacies of corporations cannot be divided and restructured as if they were commercial assets. Business law is meant to facilitate economic development, not to serve companies to escape accountability or deny victims their rght to justice.

Now that the mediation has failed, the Norwegian National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines will itself examine the complaint to assess whether it is justified. This usually takes several months.

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