Dispute over council’s independence

A dispute has broken out between a number of Sweden’s top economists and the government, which wants MPs from the Committee on Finance to have a say as to who is to be appointed to Sweden’s influential Fiscal Policy Council (Finanspolitiska rådet).

The council, whose remit is to provide an independent evaluation of the government’s fiscal policy, has frequently criticised government policy.

Professor John Hassler warns that there is a clear risk of politicisation and that the council might as well close down.

Concerns raised over tax proposal

Earlier this year a government-commissioned inquiry proposed that real estate sales in so-called packaging companies should no longer be tax exempt. The CEOs of Swedish property companies, who were asked to comment the proposals, have now submitted their findings to the Ministry of Finance and the general consensus is that a tax hike of some SEK 17 billion on the sector would curb construction, create financial unrest and cause rents to soar.

Disagreement over coal-powered plants

Negotiations to revise the EU’s emissions trading scheme have reached a deadlock after the European Parliament rejected a bid from member states that would have seen EU funds being invested in the modernisation of coal-powered electricity plants.

While disappointed over the standoff, Jytte Guteland, a Social Democratic MEP and member of the European Parliament’s environment committee, is relieved that a responsible decision was taken.

One of the key points of debate is how to fund industry’s shift to cleaner power. Guteland says MEPs agree that EU funds cannot be used to “lock Europe into a fossil-fuelled future”.

India wants Sweden’s help to grow

For the first time India’s government is arranging the business seminar, Make in India, outside of India, and it will take place in Stockholm. India’s Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu is in Sweden together with a delegation of several hundred representatives of India’s government and business. He is meeting representatives of the Swedish government, such as Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and Trade Minister Ann Linde and will also participate in Make in India. The aim is to encourage companies within 25 specific industries to station their manufacturing in India.

Speaking to Dagens Nyheter (DN) he says, “We are trying to liberalise for foreign investment more and more. There are openings within all industries.”

Finance Minister and IMF

According to Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) shares a view on several issues with the Swedish government, for example concern over the housing market.

She is also grateful for the IMF’s praise for her economic policy. “We are on the same wavelength when it comes to the need for inclusive growth,” she says.

Magdalena Andersson is to attend the IMF’s autumn meeting in Washington and will visit the White House to meet US President Donald Trump’s international advisor.

Bribery accused signed deal with Saab

In November 1998, the South African ANC government announced it would prioritise Saab’s offer, despite the need for 28 Gripen jets being questioned.

A decisive factor was support from the union Numsa and the movement Sanco. By December 1999 CEO of Saab, at the time, Bengt Halse, had signed the Gripen contract with South Africa. Six months earlier he had signed two other contracts for Saab, this time with Numsa and Sanco, both signed by Moses Mayekiso, a well-known union leader.

Prior to the state Seriti Commission, a leading critic Terry Crawford-Browne said he had information of suspect transactions between Saab and Mayekiso, with the aim of paying bribes to MPs to back the arms deal. This has not been proven and Saab denies the allegations.

SvD has now seen the previously confidential agreements. The second, with Numsa, was signed by Mayekiso, raising the question why, as Numsa was represented by other people. He also signed the contract as “industrial co-ordinator for Sweden”. When SvD speaks to Mayekiso, he says that he was a negotiator. He also refuses to answer if he was acting on behalf of Saab or the Numsa, or whether he was paid.

Meanwhile, Bengt Halse says that he does not know who Moses Mayekiso is, and does not remember him.

Leten Ericsson’s salvation

Atlas Copco’s former CEO Ronnie Leten is to become the new chair of Ericsson’s board, news that was applauded by the markets. Johan Forssell, CEO of Investor and chair of the nomination committee commented, “We are unanimous in the nomination committee that Ronnie Leten is the right person for the job.”

He explains that Leten will lead the board and, using his broad industrial experience, will be involved in the vital strategic discussions and support the management in executing the strategic direction.

Although he does not have experience within telecommunications, Johan Forssell emphasises that he does have technical competence, as well as experience of digitalisation of a large business from his time as CEO of Atlas Copco.

New SAS share issues does not appeal to Sweden

On Friday morning, SAS announced the airline will hold an extra meeting on 3 November to seek authorisation for a directed share issue. If the application is approved the company will have the right to issues 66 million common shares, 30% of the total common shares.

Principle owners Denmark, Sweden and Norway are expected to back the request. However in press release from the government, Enterprise Minister Mikael Damberg says the state is not going to buy shares as it is not a long-term owner in SAS

SEK 10 million extra to drug approvals

When the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which is headquartered in London, receives applications from drug makers seeking marketing approval for new treatments in Europe, it passes on the applications to national drug agencies.

Since the summer, and as a result of Brexit, the EMA has stopped all complicated drug approval processes in the UK. Instead a number of these applications are now being passed on to the Swedish Medical Products Agency which is to receive an extra SEK 10 million from the government so that it can recruit a number of experts.

Eniro could not withstand competitor

Eniro, the listed telephone number search company, has had huge economic problems in recent years. The company is now one step away from bankruptcy and can only be saved if the banks and a group of investors approve the company’s rescue plan, which has already been voted down by the shareholders.

Kristoffer Lindström, tech analyst at Redeye, says the company’s transition from telephone catalogue to digital services was the beginning of the end. “They have not been fast enough at adapting to the new kind of user behaviour. People have gone from searching locally to searching globally and suddenly Eniro was challenged by enormous tech giants with unlimited resources.”