Moderates promise to sell state firms

The Moderate Party has now made it clear that it plans to try and sell off more state companies if it wins the 2018 election. It has already singled out Telia, SAS and SBAB as objects for sale. Lars Hjälmered, party spokesperson for enterprise, says, “We do not consider the state to have a role to play in these companies.”

He is also critical of how Mikael Damberg, minister for enterprise and innovation, is dealing with the issue: “It is a very worrying situation that is being handled precariously. If you compare Mikael Damberg’s talk during the election campaign with how he has then managed the companies, there is a huge discrepancy.”

In particular he is critical of the extra dividends the state has extracted; SKr 6.5 billion from Akademiska Hus, the academic property company, and SKr 1.7 billion from SJ, the rail operator. “Of course that has an effect on the railways and the potential to build student accommodation. And they did that because of the desperation they have as a result of increasing costs for immigration and sick absences,” he says.

Handelsbanken CEO: “Didn’t meet the mark”

After Handelsbanken’s CEO Frank Vang-Jensen was unexpectedly fired yesterday following only 17 months in the post, chair Pär Boman addressed a press conference to answer why.

The main issue was the bank’s decentralised business model with strong and self-sufficient branches. “Being in charge of Handelsbanken and leading other self-sufficient managers is a very different kind of leadership compared to many other companies,” he said.

Frank Vang-Jensen, as well as planning to reduce the number of branches from 463 to 400, tried to centralise the bank’s operations more than local branch managers could accept. Boman also said, “Frank quite simply didn’t meet the mark to be CEO at Handelsbanken.”

Anders Bouvin, with over 30 years of experience at Handelsbanken, is taking over as CEO.

New CEO for Handelsbanken

Handelsbanken’s CEO Frank Vang-Jensen has been fired. In a press release this morning, the board of the bank said, “a change of CEO ought to take place now”. Chair Pär Boman continued, “The decision is only a question of the individual. Handelsbanken remains strong and our long-term goals are still in place.”

Vang-Jensen has been CEO since March 2015 when he took over from Pär Boman who became chair. Pär Boman says Vang-Jensen’s style of leadership does not match Handelsbanken’s “very decentralised way of working”.

Swedish companies see potential in Turkey

Although the situation in Turkey remains tense, Swedish companies continue to carry out business in the country.

“The perception we have is that Swedish companies still consider there to be good potential on the Turkish market,” says Erik Friberg, Business Sweden’s trade secretary in Turkey. His comment is based on a survey Business Sweden is carrying out, asking 100 Swedish companies active in Turkey about their perception of the business climate there. The study is still underway but over half of the companies have answered Business Sweden’s questions.

Cash handling firm Loomis, which operates in Turkey, experienced concern after the attempted coup but CEO, Patrik Andersson, says, “As we are responsible for many cash machines, we in fact had greater demand during those days.”

Sought: CEO with an eye for the future

After the firing of Ericsson’s CEO Hans Vestberg yesterday, the hunt for a new CEO begins, a process that could take a long time, reports DI.

Criticism against Vestberg had increased in recent months and one of the major reasons for Vestberg’s departure is that he did not succeed in lifting the company’s share value. Among other things Vestberg has been criticised for his extravagant travel and excessive salary, while the company’s share price was idling. Furthermore he was under fire for taking on the role of chair of the Swedish Olympic Committee, taking focus away from Ericsson.

Chair of the board Leif Johansson wants the successor to have knowledge of technology, someone who can develop Ericsson outside the traditional telecoms industry. “On the media side, for example administering TV channels, but also connecting cars with networks and other services,” he says.

Hans Vestberg fired

Ericsson’s CEO Hans Vestberg is to leave his position as CEO at the telecoms company with immediate effect after a board decision.

“Hans Vestberg has led the company for seven years through huge transformations in both the industry and the company. He has built strong relationships and partnerships with important clients around the world and his leadership and energy has been inspirational for both employees and managers in Ericsson. However given the current market situation and the increased tempo in executing the company’s strategy the board has decided that the time is right for a new leader,” says chairman Leif Johansson.

During Hans Vestberg’s time at the helm Ericsson’s shares have fallen by 3.6% while the Stockholm OMXSPI index has risen by 65%.

Create simple jobs

CEO and chair of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, Carola Lemne and Leif Östling, write in DI today that 460,000 jobs must be created in the next few years if Sweden is to meet the government’s target of having the EU’s lowest unemployment by 2020. They write, “For various reasons, such as age, “education first and job later” is not the right solution for everyone. The alternative to several more years at a school desk cannot be being consigned to benefit dependency. There must be more paths to jobs.”

They highlight reform proposals such as creating introductory jobs for immigrants, increasing flexibility in SFI (Swedish language courses), developing job matching, extend RUT and ROT deductions, making it possible for asylum seekers to work, redistributing resources to vocational courses and opening up the Public Employment Agency to competition.

“If 100,000 more new jobs are to be created and contribute to Sweden’s growth more efforts are needed than what the government has so far demonstrated”.

Huge orders rolling in

Volvo-owned Mack Defense has received two major orders for 1,500 trucks from the Canadian Armed Forces. The deal is worth SKr 5 billion.

Communication director for Volvo Group Governmental Sales Grégoire Verdon, says, “One of the pillars in our strategy is to develop business in other parts of the world… Canada is an example that our strategy is giving results.”

This is first time Volvo has succeeded in selling a European truck to a defence customer in North America. “This is a good opportunity to show our group’s abilities,” says Grégoire Verdon.

iPhone losing to competition in Sweden

Android mobiles from Sony, LG and Samsung continue to rush by iPhone when it comes to data speeds, according to this year’s review from Bredbandskollen, a service that measures connection speeds. The best-positioned iPhone lies in 18th place.

Rickard Dahlstrand, project manager from the Internet Foundation in Sweden, says, “My theory is that Apple has not optimised its telephones for the Swedish networks. Among the other suppliers there are those that consider Swedish operators to be bigger clients, whereas Apple is more focused on the USA.

Match for London

The government wants to utilise the British EU exit to attract companies to Sweden. Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson says, “This will be negative for economies in Europe and for Sweden. However there could be potential for a number of companies that otherwise would have made investments or have their head offices in the UK which now choose to move to Stockholm.”

On Monday Magdalena Andersson and Enterprise Minister Mikael Damberg met to discuss how Sweden could attract companies from London. Mikael Damberg has already been in touch with a number of Swedish companies and the government is considering increasing its presence in London to attract foreign investors to Sweden.

After meeting with around 50 representatives of Swedish enterprises, Magdalena Andersson said, “It has been important for us to listen to business about what they want to contribute to this process”.