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”.

Löfven heads delegation to Iran

Later this week Prime Minister Stefan Löfven will head Sweden’s third delegation to Iran in just over a year. Despite this, Sweden’s exports to Iran have actually fallen in the past year.

Business Sweden’s Magnus Almén says this is because “business takes time” and that many companies are starting from scratch after the easing of sanctions.

Nevertheless a number of companies, including Ericsson and AstraZeneca, stayed in Iran when sanctions bit hardest, and Mohsen Tavakoi, a management consultant and former Iran director for Ericsson, is convinced that those who chose to stay in 2012 made a wise decision in terms of business. “It was a sign of commitment to the country, not the government,” he says.

Companies in the Swedish delegation will include ABB, AstraZeneca, Danske Bank, Ericsson, Sandvik, Scania, SEB, Tetra Pak Iran, Volvo Cars, Volvo Group, Bombardier and the Wallenberg Foundation.

Debt Office concerned

Hans Lindblad, director general of Sweden’s National Debt Office (Riksgälden), is worried over US President Donald Trump’s plans to roll back key financial industry regulations.

He warns that this could increase the risk of a new financial crisis, saying: “Anyone who has seen the effects of a crisis should be concerned”.

Skanska to boycott Trump wall

Skanska CEO Johan Karlström has said the construction company will not help build Donald Trump’s border wall between Mexico and the US. “We believe in openness and equality,” Karlström said during a presentation of the firm’s interim report on Friday.

Skanska posted a pre-tax profit of SKr 3.2 billion for the fourth quarter and an operating profit of SKr 3.3 billion.

CEO apologises for failure

On Wednesday evening Swedbank cash machines malfunctioned and customers with bankcards were able to withdraw more money than they had in their accounts. “I can only apologise for what happened, which meant that many customers yesterday (read Wednesday) could not use our bankcard products,” says CEO Birgitte Bonnesen.

The Financial Supervisory Authority (FSA) has confirmed it received notification from Swedbank but would not say more without a fuller report from the bank.

Nevertheless Birgitte Bonnesen could not hide her joy when presenting the bank’s interim report. Operating profits for the fourth quarter were SKr 5.1 billion, somewhat higher than expected, and better than the previous fourth quarter. The bank is raising its dividend to 13.2 kronor per share. Swedbank’s shares rose 0.5% yesterday.

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.

SSAB: highest emissions

SSAB, Stora Enso and SAS are the biggest climate culprits on the Stockholm stock market, according to a new survey by consultants South Pole Group.

Noel Morrin, sustainability manager at Stora Enso, says it features high on the list because it is more international than its Nordic competitors. The company plans to achieve almost zero emissions through investment and purchasing renewable electricity.

On the other hand manufacturer Atlas Copco performed well. An investment in the company produces a tenth of the emissions as an investment in ABB.

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.