Telia hikes landline prices

The operator Telia has announced that it will increase landline rental charges for households by 24% per month, starting 19 September. Its basic landline package will increased from SEK 165 to SEK 205 a month.

The hike is said to be due to falling demand for copper landlines as consumers switch to mobile or fibre-optic solutions.

Merger created negative value

Intrum Justitia’s board, the banks and short sellers are the only ones to have gained from the debt collection company’s merger with Lindorf, reports Dagens Industri (DI). The board’s fees have been raised by 20% while shareholders have seen the value of their holdings fall by as much in the past ten weeks.

In order to meet EU regulation, Intrum Justitia is having to divest a number of units. “It’s a buyer’s market – everyone knows that Intrum has just six months in which to sell the units. And they have paid excessive fees to their advisors, while short sellers love the share,” say experts to the business daily.

Haldex will not back Knorr-Bremse bid

The board of Swedish brake systems manufacturer Haldex said on Wednesday that it would not support a bid from Germany’s  Knorr-Bremse, regardless of the outcome of a shareholders meeting on 17 August.

The German company is proposing that the extra meeting instruct the Haldex board to recommend that the Swedish Securities Council approve an extension of the acceptance period for the bid.

Haldex does not believe in a further extension, however, saying the competition authorities are unlikely to approve the deal.

Haldex has said an extension would cause the company material harm, and has identified eight instances in which it has been unable to sign long-term contracts with customers as a result of the lengthy bidding process.

Hospitality industry hit by payroll costs

There has been a 6% rise in company liquidations so far this year, according to business and credit reference agency UC. The hotel and restaurant industry has been particularly badly hit, and in July the sector saw a 19% increase in liquidations in relation to July 2016.

Eva Östling, CEO of Visita, the employer organisation representing enterprises in the Swedish hospitality sector, is not surprised. On 1 July 2016 the government scrapped the subsidy on payroll charges in the sector, raising the rate to 31.42%. Östling believes the industry is now feeling the full impact of the three-fold increase in the charge.

Östling points out that the industry should be enjoying a boom given the summer months and the strong economy, and expresses concern over the impact a recession will have on the sector, when people spend less on eating and drinking out.

Consumer lending growth

Swedish mortgage lending growth has stabilised at around 7-8 per cent, while consumer lending growth has risen considerably in recent months. In June consumer lending rose to 9.4 per cent at an annual rate, the highest figure recorded since 2008.

Economists are concerned by the trend, warning that unsecured loans could lie behind the growth.

Swedish data surprised on the upside

The Swedish krona weakened 5 öre against the euro when Prime Minister Stefan Löfven announced his Cabinet reshuffle on Thursday, although a number of economic indicators surprised on the upside.

Statistics Sweden reported that the employment rate, not seasonally adjusted, was 7.4% in June; analysts had forecast a rate of 7.5%. The seasonally adjusted employment rate was 6.4%, compared to 6.6% in May.

The National Institute of Economic Research (Konjunkturinstitutet) said its economic sentiment index had increased in July to 112.4, from 112.2 in June. Sentiment in the manufacturing industry had increased unexpectedly. However, consumer sentiment fell to 102.2, from 102.6.

The Institute reported labour shortages, which prompted SEB bank to question how long the Swedish central bank could ignore this trend.

Little market impact

Wednesday’s news that Sweden’s centre-right alliance parties are planning a vote of no confidence in three government ministers over a security breach at the Transport Agency had little impact on markets.

According to SEB economist Robert Bergqvist, the strong foundations of the Swedish economy and broad political agreement over the budgetary framework provide protection against political crises and a political vacuum.

Concerns about undermining monopoly

Backed by the Sweden Democrats and the other centre-right alliance parties, local Liberal politicians in Skåne have proposed to the government that wine producers in the region should be allowed to sell their produce at their vineyards for a trial period of three years.

Green politician Anders Åkesson opposes the idea, saying it would undermine Systembolaget’s monopoly. Two government inquiries have already concluded that such an initiative would put the state monopoly at risk

Thriving FinTech industry

Financial technology, or FinTech, has become a thriving industry in recent years with Sweden topping the league for FinTech investments per capita. New payment methods via mobile phones and simpler forms of identification mean that payments can be made from virtually anywhere. But the development of these new services is not without risk and Sweden’s Riksbank warned of growing uncertainty in its latest financial stability report from May. The central bank has warned that deposits could become more volatile, thereby increasing the liquidity risk.

Lift for Swedish business

Prior to last week’s G20 summit Japan and the EU announced an agreement on a free trade deal. The Swedish government expects 97% of Japan’s and 99% of the EU’s tariffs will be scrapped. Ann Linde, the minister for EU affairs and trade, stresses the importance of the agreement, saying that two-thirds of companies exporting to Japan today are SMEs.

Five years ago a similar agreement was signed with South Korea, and since then exports have increased by 55%, according to the minister.

Sweden’s services, retail trade and food sectors could all benefit from the agreement, say experts Dagens Nyheter has spoken to.