Government seeks clarification

Volkswagen has said it will recall 11 million emission-rigged vehicles worldwide. In a statement issued on Tuesday, the company said it was working on a technical solution to correct the manipulated software in the cars with EA 189 engines. In Sweden, 224,746 Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda and Seat vehicles will be recalled.

The government has called representatives of Volkswagen’s Swedish division to a meeting today to seek clarification on local vehicles.

New export strategy

Enterprise and innovation minister Mikael Damberg unveiled a new 22-point plan on Monday, seeking to encourage growth and increase Sweden’s exports.

Expressing concern over the country’s weak export growth, the minister said the government intended to allocate SKr 800 million to stimulate Sweden’s presence in global markets.

The plan includes the opening of new embassies and consulates in export markets, financing to facilitate the export of goods and services, as well as proposals to attract foreign investment and improve Sweden’s image overseas.

Damberg noted that Germany and the Netherlands have both enjoyed better export growth than Sweden. He also pointed out that Asia is expected to growth twice as fast as Europe, to where some 70% of Sweden’s exports go. “Sweden will miss out on more than half of the expected growth in value, unless it is able to redirect its exports,” he said.

Unrepentant PM

Just 6% of Sweden’s business leaders have confidence in Stefan Löfven, according to a DI/Ipsos poll published last week. Despite this, the PM says he has a good relationship with the business community. Admitting that growth has been curbed by the shortage of housing and outdated infrastructure, the PM is convinced the government is addressing the problem with its autumn budget bill and future investment. Suggesting that the discontent among business leaders has to do with taxation, Stefan Löfven appears unrepentant about recent tax hikes: “I know these issues are important. But, we may have different views about certain tax issues,” he told Dagens Industri.



On lookout to acquire Swedish assets

Russian energy company Inter RAO is seeking to buy a Swedish power company. Inter RAO is a key player in the Russian electricity market, and is a monopoly importer and exporter out of Russia, with operations in some 14 countries, including the Baltic states. The company wishes to expand into new market, and is looking at Sweden.
“We cannot specify anything as it is too early on (in the process, ed.). We’re holding talks, but as yet no purchase decision has been made,” Anton Nazarov, head of communications at Inter RAO tells SvD.

Falkengren under pressure

Major shareholders in SEB are concerned that Annika Falkengren, the chief executive of SEB will no longer be able to give full attention to her duties as CEO, given that she is also a member of the VW board. “We’re genuinely concerned as to how this will affect SEB. Particularly since the bank’s CEO could be subject to damages in the US,” a SEB shareholder representative tell Dagens Industri.
Falkengren is also a member of the boards of Securitas, Scania and the Wallenberg Foundations’ holding company Foundation Asset Management.

Comments on VW scandal

German carmaker Volkswagen (VW) will set aside SKr 60 billion for fines to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), after revelations that VW has deceived US regulators in exhaust emissions tests.
Speculation is rife as to whether VW chief executive Martin Winterkorn may have to step down. However, Christer Karlsson, professor at Copenhagen Business School, says that he believes Winterkorn should be forced to stay and clear up the mess.
SEB’s Annika Falkengren, who sits on VW’s supervisory board, did not wish to comment on the incident on Tuesday.
Stefan Elfström, spokesman at Volvo Cars, says that Volvo has not certified any diesel cars in the US, nor does the company use similar software to that used by VW.

Vattenfall’s lignite mining for sale

State-owned utility Vattenfall has invited potential bidders to state their interest in all of Vattenfall’s German lignite assets, reports Dagens Industri online.
“A key step in the sales process and Vattenfall’s energy portfolio strategy shift,” states the company in a press release.
Bidders will also be able to bid for the utility’s hydro assets in Germany in conjunction with the sale. The sales process is expected to continue into 2016, and Citigroup and ING have been appointed financial advisors in the transaction.
Vattenfall remains fully committed to its other business operations in Germany, such as district heating, electricity distribution, sales, trading and wind.

Support for global start-ups

The government’s new export strategy, to be presented next week, will be tailored to provide more specialist and extensive support for the young, entrepreneurial firms that seek early and rapid internationalisation, reveals Mikael Damberg, the enterprise minister in DI.
Among other things, the government will task the National Board of Trade to map the major obstacles to trade for these firms both within and beyond the EU, writes Damberg.
These global-born companies attract the world’s attention and contribute to strengthening Sweden’s competitive edge, writes the minister.

Priority on jobs

An Ipsos/DI survey among 2,300 senior executives of companies with yearly sales of over SKr 10 million shows that 60% consider investments in job creation should be the top priority in the upcoming autumn budget bill, to be presented on Monday.
There is little confidence among business leaders in the government’s budget proposals so far, says Günther Mårder, head of the Swedish Association of Business Owners (Företagarna).
School education and integration list as the second and third most important areas to invest in, shows the survey, while environment and the climate are given lower priority among these business leaders.
Moreover, there are major differences between how female and male business executives prioritise jobs and defence, comments DI.