Swedish money financing criticised project

After Donald Trump waived the requirement for the company behind the controversial oil pipeline in North Dakota to consult the indigenous population again about the environmental impact on their water, the tribe is being removed from protest camps at Standing Rock.

SvD reports several Swedish banks and fund companies, including Skandia, Swedbank and Länsförsäkringar, have invested in the company. Länsförsäkringar is trying to get the company to reroute the pipeline while Skandia’s sustainability analyst Helena Larson says Skandia is waiting for a UN special rapporteur to determine whether the rights of the indigenous population have been breached.

Meanwhile Nordea has recently stopped its fund managers from investing in the company and SEB’s fund company has sold its holdings although still has holdings via its index funds.

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.

Damberg: No immediate plans to sell

Johan Dennelind, the chief executive of Telia Company, has confirmed that the operator is interested in acquiring Denmark’s TDC, but that the price is too high. One major uncertainty for Telia is whether the Swedish government will agree to a rights issue to finance such a deal, which would dilute the state’s 37.3% stake in the operator. Enterprise Minister Mikael Damberg is reticent, merely saying that the government would be prepared to discuss the issue with Telia, and that it has no immediate plans to divest its holding.

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.

Riksbank leaves interest rate unchanged

Swedish households can count on lower interest rates for another couple of years after the Riksbank and its governor, Stefan Ingves, presented the first monetary policy forecast and interest rate announcement of the year yesterday.

The Riksbank highlighted a number of uncertainties in Europe, for example the economic effect of Brexit and forthcoming elections in the Netherlands, France and Germany. Ingves also warned of residual problems concerning toxic loans in European banks.

The bank has decided to extend the mandate which facilitates quick intervention on the currency market. However the forecast is based on a more stable series of events with inflation and interest rates normalising at a steady rate. The key interest rate remains unchanged at a negative 0.5 per cent and the new forecast states that a further lowering of the repo rate to -0.6 per cent is more likely than it being raised.

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.

Lundin to spin off assets

Lundin Petroleum is hiving off all its assets outside of Norway to a separate listed company called International Petroleum Corporation (IPC).

“Growth in Norway has meant shareholders’ interest in our other assets has become quite minimal,” states CEO Alex Scheiter.

IPC’s aim is to grow through acquisitions although financial director Mike Nicholson, who will become CEO of IPC, says the acquisitions will focus on quality rather than quantity.

Lundin Petroleum’s production prognosis for 2017, including IPC, is 79,000-91,000 barrels per day, which can be compared to 73,000 last year. However Alex Scheiter calls the forecast conservative.

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.”