3 Min Read
* Q4 organic sales growth 2 pct vs forecast 4 pct
* Says weak oil business hits growth
* Nominates new chairwoman with links to main investor (Adds CEO comments, background, shares)
By Johannes Hellstrom
STOCKHOLM, Feb 6 (Reuters) - Measurement technology and software firm Hexagon is cutting about 480 jobs to lower its costs after core profit and sales grew less than expected in the last three months of 2016, hit by soft demand from customers in the oil industry.
The Swedish firm, which supplies sectors such as surveying, energy, manufacturing, construction and automotive, said cost-cutting measures would target 43 million euros ($46.2 million) in annual savings when fully implemented next year.
The measures would focus on administrative costs at a company which employs more than 16,000.
Hexagon bought U.S.-based simulation software firm MSC Software last week in a $834 million deal and Chief Executive Ola Rollen said the firm still had financial firepower for 1-1.5 billion euros in acquisitions.
The company has gone through a chaotic period with main owner Melker Schorling announcing he will step down for health reasons as chairman and Rollen being investigated and briefly held in custody for alleged insider trading in a company unrelated to Hexagon.
The investigation is ongoing although Rollen has been back at work since early November. He denies wrongdoing and has not been charged.
Hexagon's nomination committee said it was proposing Gun Nilsson, new CEO at Schorling holding company MSAB, as its new chairwoman.
The company also proposed adding former Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg, truck maker Scania CEO Henrik Henriksson, and Melker Schorling's daughters Sofia Schorling Hogberg and Marta Schorling Andreen to the board.
Hexagon's fourth-quarter operating profit rose to 209 million euros ($225 million) from 198 million in the year-ago quarter, narrowly undershooting a 212 million mean forecast in a Reuters poll of analysts.
Like-for-like quarterly sales growth came in at only 2 percent compared with the 4 percent seen by analysts, as Hexagon's Process, Power & Marine (PPM) division, which relies on business from the industry, record a sharp fall in sales.
"PPM was a clear disappointment, but we do think we are bottoming out and very close to a turning point," Rollen told reporters in a conference call.
Shares in Hexagon, which set new ambitious targets for profitability and growth in December, fell 0.83 percent at 1025 GMT, underperforming a flat STOXX Europe 600 Technology Index . ($1 = 0.9305 euros) (Editing by Niklas Pollard/Keith Weir)