Submarine base to be sold

Joachim Kuylenstierna’s company Skälsö bought a submarine base on Gotland in 2004, when all the parliamentary parties agreed to scrap it. The Swedish state now wants to buy back the base and DI’s sources reveal that two prospective buyers have placed bids higher than that of the Swedish Fortifications Agency and the Armed Forces, including Russian businessman Vladimir Antonov, who was stopped from taking over Saab Automobile by Reinfeldt’s government and General Motors because of questionable business.

Liberal leader Jan Björklund is demanding that Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist acts to ensure the port does not end up in foreign hands. Hultqvist says, “I think it is correct for the authorities to request to buy the base and we are trying to push it to the point in which the Swedish state owns the base again.

After the reports financier Lars Carlström got in touch with DI. “Just spoke to Antonov, he has no knowledge about this. The seller is a compulsive liar who is spreading news, probably no other interests than the Armed Forces,” he writes in an email.

Kjos criticises government plans

The low-cost airline Norwegian has plans to make Arlanda Airport a hub for flights between Asia and the US, thereby creating up to 20,000 new jobs. But, warns CEO Bjorn Kjos, Norwegian will take its business elsewhere, if the Swedish government realises its plans to levy an environmental tax on air travel. Airlines will move away from Sweden and regional airports will experience problems. He believes Skavsta Airport would be forced out of business, since Ryanair would transfer its operations to Germany.

“Margins are too small. Just look at what happened when Norway introduced an aviation tax – Rygge Airport (on the outskirts of Oslo, ed.) had to close.”

External experts to review crisis

DN has previously reported that the Swedish-Danish Postnord is in crisis; a picture confirmed when the company presented its losses of almost SKr 1.6 billion for 2016.

Now Enterprise Minister Mikael Damberg has called in external lawyers and financial advisers to decide how the government should move forward with Postnord.

It is mainly the Danish section that has pulled down the business and Mikael Damberg has reviewed the merger agreement. He points out shortcomings such as not having a long-term perspective and setting far too optimistic forecasts. There are also questions about how the merger’s structure was determined, as Sweden provided 70% of turnover but received only 60% of ownership.

Minister wavers over tax

The outlook for the proposal of a new financial tax is not looking bright. After heavy criticism Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson is wavering.

Critics believe the tax would affect 318,000 companies, compared to the 10,700 that are actually active within the financial sector, according to the Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket).

Magdalena Andersson said on Tuesday, “Given that it has such a wide impact, it is uncertain that it would fulfil its task.” She says the responses to the proposal will now be looked at in detail but she is not ruling out the idea of a banking tax. “We want the banks, in one way or another, to be able to contribute more,” she says.

Political risk for multi-billion kronor deals

Five deals worth SKr 2.9 billion were struck with Iranian partners during the Swedish delegation’s visit to Iran at the weekend. Scania, led by CEO Henrik Henriksson, signed two new agreements for a total of 1,350 buses. Henriksson described their relationship with Iranian partner, Mammut, as a way of “spreading the Swedish model”.

However the political risks for those investing in the country are high. The business climate is nervous, not least because of Donald Trump and American sanctions.

Karsten Stroyberg, who is responsible for Danske Bank in the region, the only bank apart from SEB that helps Swedish companies in Iran, says, “It is very complicated and very limited… You cannot have any Americans in the company, you cannot have any American dollars or companies in the agreement.”

Agency warned of merger

Dagens Nyheter yesterday revealed that the Swedish government is drawing up a crisis plan for PostNord, which it owns together with the Danish government. A working document reveals that the government is concerned over profitability and the Danish part of the business is the main problem.

PostNord Denmark has been in the red since 2012 and there are fears among Swedish politicians that taxpayers will end up footing the bill to secure Swedish postal services.

One of the problems is that while the Swedish government owns 60% of the shares, it only has 50% of the vote in PostNord. According to DN, it is virtually impossible to implement any major change, unless all board members are in agreement.

When the merger was agreed in 2008, Nutek, the Swedish agency for economic and regional growth, commented that the deal was a poor one for Sweden.

Meanwhile, Moderate MP Lars Hjälmered, the deputy chair of the parliamentary committee on industry and trade, believes measures need to be taken to ensure the Danish business makes a profit, saying. “PostNord must decide what that is, be it a change in ownership, or streamlining or whatever. But it is obvious that something needs to be done; it cannot be allowed to run at a loss.”

Hard-pressed wind power producers

Some 90 billion kronor have been invested in the expansion of wind power in Sweden, but falling electricity prices have led to a series of write downs. And now electricity certificate prices have plummeted to below 70 kronor a certificate.

Nordea, one of the main lenders to the wind power industry, warns that the situation is dire and that politicians need to take action immediately; otherwise there will be a wave of bankruptcies in the sector.

Trade association Swedish Wind Energy says politicians need to address the deficiencies in the electricity certificate support system for renewable energy as soon as possible but Energy Minister Ibrahim Baylan cannot promise a quick fix. Such a move would create uncertainty and could be “downright dangerous” given the fact that Sweden and Norway have a joint market for electricity certificates.

The minister understands that many are hard-pressed but “it’s also important to stress that this is a market and thereby associated with risk”.

FSA inquiry continues

The Financial Supervisory Authority’s (FSA) massive investigation into money laundering and terror financing in the wake of the Panama Papers leak has taken an important step forward, reveals director general Erik Thedéen in an interview. He tells SvD business that he has sent a verification letter to the four main banks asking them to check the information the FSA has found and add any comments. The authority will then decide whether to take it further.

Furthermore on Tuesday the FSA, together with the Police’s Financial Intelligence Unit, announced new efforts to stop money laundering and the financing of terrorism. This time the focus is on smaller players and the spotlight is being turned on companies that send money abroad and quick loan companies.

Several top names in firing line

Late on Thursday forestry company Holmen announced that the company’s chair and principle owner Fredrik Lundberg was under suspicion of bribery in connection with Holmen’s hunting trips. Early on Friday morning came the news that deputy chair of investment company Kinnevik and former Finance Minister, Anders Borg, was also under suspicion.

Hans Strandberg, Borg’s lawyer, says, “It concerns a hunting trip he took part in when he was no longer finance minister. However the prosecutor is linking the hunt to his duties as minister.” According to DI the National Anti-Corruption Unit is focusing its investigation on decisions affecting the forestry industry taking by the Ministry of Finance during Borg’s time in office.

Earlier media reports claimed that Anders Borg has paid around SKr 2,500 himself for each hunt, which is considered to be under the value of such a trip. On Friday Borg sent a text message to DI saying: “I am convinced that I have handled this correctly.”

DI reports that the prosecutor is planning to question a further three to six people who participated in the hunts.

Linde concerned

On Thursday afternoon Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced that he would not attend a meeting with US President Donald Trump. His move was a response to a planned border wall between the two countries, and the question of who would pay for it.

For every day that passes Professor Henrik Horn of the Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) is more and more convinced that Donald Trump intends to realise his trade threats, and that there is a real risk of a trade war, reports Dagens Industri.

Trade Minister Ann Linde (S) is also concerned, saying trade patterns will “deteriorate” when the international rules for global trade are called into question.

However, the minister is keen that Sweden should have good relations with the US, pointing out that Swedish companies employ 330,000 people and is one of the largest investors per capita in the US.

Meanwhile, Anna Stellinger, director general of the National Board of Trade Sweden (Kommerskollegium), fears Donald Trump’s trade action could have direct and indirect impact on Swedish exports and companies.

“The US is our second most important export country in terms of services, and the third most important for exports of goods,” she says, emphasising that 140,000 jobs in Sweden are dependent on US exports.