Vattenfall’s threat: we will close all reactors

Yesterday’s quarterly report from energy giant Vattenfall presented a rise in operating profits and profits after tax of SKr 6 billion, thereby granting CEO Magnus Hall some breathing space.

However write-downs for German brown coal, if the government approves Vattenfall’s sale, are expected in the next report and the company must make a decision to make new investments into nuclear power or decommission.

“Without investment… we will not be allowed to run the reactors after 2020. We are not going to make investments if the government does not remove the tax on nuclear power completely. That is a definite decision from us,” says Magnus Hall.

Meanwhile DN reports Vattenfall has no plans to scrap emission rights, as MEP Jytte Guteland has demanded. Magnus Hall says the rights are part of the deal with the buyer of the lignite operations in Germany.

Saab adjusts sales prognosis for Gripen

Saab boss Håkan Buskhe is revaluing the forecast for sales of the Gripen fighter jet over the next twenty years.

Last week Finland took a crucial step towards acquiring new fighter jets by sending out an inquiry to Sweden, USA, UK and France about what they have to offer. SvD reports that Finland’s plans for new aircraft is only one example of a number of countries looking to renew their air forces.

Saab had estimated selling around 450 Gripen fighter jets in the next twenty years. However Saab president Håkan Buskhe now says in addition to the coming 450 E/F versions to be supplied to Sweden and Brazil’s air forces starting 2019, there are current C/D versions that the company expects to sell. Buskhe considers Slovakia, Malaysia, Indonesia and Bulgaria as possible buyers.

Brexit will affect exports

According to a fresh report from Swedbank, if Britain decides to leave the EU it will likely lead to short term volatility on the world’s financial markets, which would strengthen the dollar and euro against the krona.

In the longer term Swedbank writes, “A Brexit will probably weaken the EU politically and economically. In turn this will affect Sweden negatively.” In particular the service sector, of which the UK is the third largest export market, will be sensitive. In 2014-2015 alone Swedish service exports increased by 44% to the country. Negotiating a new trade deal with the EU is also likely to take a long time, in the case of an exit.

Swedbank also considers there to be a risk that Sweden’s political influence in Brussels would fall. Sweden often votes with the UK and the bank deems that more power will be transferred to the eurozone in the case of a Brexit.

LO threatens to leave Nordea

Criticism against Nordea is growing after it was revealed that the Nordic region’s largest bank helped customers create mailbox companies in the tax haven Panama.

In Finland the three parliamentary parties decided to cease cooperation with Nordea, followed last week by the Finnish transport union, AKT, and then three days ago the industrial union, Team.

SvD reports that the Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO) is now considering breaking off with Nordea. According to CFO at LO, Kjell Ahlberg, LO is first waiting to find out whether the bank broke any regulations.

AB Volvo’s convincing report

AB Volvo’s Q1 report carried a number of millstones: turnover fell by 4 percent, currency effects cost almost SKr 400 million in turnover, and truck production in North America was cut by a third.

Nevertheless operating turnover amounted to SKr 4.5 billion and the operating margin was 6.2% adjusted for capital gains and last year’s restructuring costs. Within sales, buses and Penta shone with 14% and 5% respective increases in organic turnover.

For the first time former Scania boss Martin Lundstedt revealed that service and reserve parts contributed 23% to the company’s turnover.

Waning confidence in banks

The crisis in Swedbank and revelations of questionable tax planning by Nordea has cost the banks dearly in terms of falling confidence.

A fresh “confidence in the banks barometer” shows that the confidence index for Nordea has slipped from 52 out of 100 at the start of the year to 32 this month, and the confidence index for Swedbank has fallen from 53 to 41.

“Confidence in the banks from the general public is initially very low. This applies in particular to dimensions such as ethics, societal responsibility and transparency,” says Tony Apéria, a research fellow at Stockholm University’s Business School, behind the barometer.

FSA eyes further measures

The Financial Supervisory Authority (Finansinspektionen, FSA) is already eyeing the next step in tackling Swedish household debt after the new amortisation requirement will start to apply on 1 June.

At a meeting with the press on Wednesday director general Erik Thedéen described the Swedish mortgage borrowing as car driving too fast on a motorway, and said, “We must slow down otherwise the risks will increase. We don’t know what could spark a crisis or a decline.”

The FSA will not tighten existing legislation, but the financial watchdog is currently analysing a proposal of a loan ceiling for borrowers of 600% of disposable incomes.

Govt to approve lignite sale

Czech energy company EPH’s bid to acquire state-owned Vattenfall’s German lignite coal assets will mean a loss of at least SKr 22 billion for the Swedish utility company, and the risk of the government being labelled a deserter on climate change. Magnus Hall, chief executive of Vattenfall, is nevertheless optimistic that the government will approve the sale.

Enterprise Minister Mikael Damberg said the government was receiving help from external advisors, in what is a complex financial transaction, adding, “I am very anxious that this should not become some kind of Nuon process.”

According to Vattenfall’s own calculations, its carbon emissions should fall to a level of 23 million tons per year from the current level of 83.8 million per year as a result of the lignite sale.

Quota targets not met

Slowly but surely the proportion of women on the boards of listed companies is increasing. However the target in the government’s threat, if 40% is not accomplished by the autumn quota legislation will be brought in, is not going to be met.

Annika Elias, chair of Ledarna, Sweden’s organisation for managers, says, “It is incomprehensible that Swedish companies cannot fix this once and for all and ensure that there is equality on company boards.”

According to the Allbright Foundation’s summary, so far, as 214 of 282 nomination committees have submitted their proposals, there looks set to be an average of 30 percent of women in the boardroom.