Percy N. Barnevik (born 13 February 1941 in Simrishamn) is a Swedish business executive, best known as CEO and later Chairman of Asea Brown Boveri (ABB) 1988–2002, and for being the centre of a giant pension scandal that shook Sweden in 2003.
Born in Simrishamn in Southern Sweden as the youngest of three children, he grew up in Uddevalla, north of Gothenburg, where his parents operated a small printing company. Barnevik was educated at Göteborg University's School of Economics and Commercial Law and at Stanford Graduate School of Business. He has later received seven honorary doctorates in Sweden, Finland and USA, including from Linköping University (1989) and Göteborg University (1991). Barnevik received also the IEEE Engineering Leadership Recognition Award (1993)
Barnevik started his professional career in the Swedish company Datema, but soon moved to Sandvik. In Sandvik, where between the years 1969 and 1970 he hired over 150 people, his employees say "he has some kind of magic in him—you just can't refuse his offer." He developed unique relationships with many of his colleagues which helped him to improve the communication. In 1975, he was promoted to CEO of Sandvik's American operations, Sandvik Steel. Within the next four years he tripled the revenues, grossing $250 million, and turned the company profitable. During his work in the United States, Sandvik started competing against the industry leaders, such as General Electric or U.S. Steel.
In 1979 he joined ASEA, a leading Swedish heavy industrial company based in Västerås. In 1987 he decided to merge with its Swiss competitor - Brown Boveri Ltd. It was the largest merger at that time. He held the position of CEO of ASEA 1980-87, was CEO of Asea Brown Boveri (ABB) 1988-1996. He was Chairman of Sandvik 1983-2002, Chairman of Skanska 1992-1997, Chairman of Investor AB 1997-2002, Chairman of AstraZeneca 1999-2004, Chairman of ABB 1997-2001 and member of the Board of du Pont, USA 1991-1998. He was also a regular Bilderberg Group attendee 1992-2001.
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