SEK 10 million extra to drug approvals

When the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which is headquartered in London, receives applications from drug makers seeking marketing approval for new treatments in Europe, it passes on the applications to national drug agencies.

Since the summer, and as a result of Brexit, the EMA has stopped all complicated drug approval processes in the UK. Instead a number of these applications are now being passed on to the Swedish Medical Products Agency which is to receive an extra SEK 10 million from the government so that it can recruit a number of experts.

Eniro could not withstand competitor

Eniro, the listed telephone number search company, has had huge economic problems in recent years. The company is now one step away from bankruptcy and can only be saved if the banks and a group of investors approve the company’s rescue plan, which has already been voted down by the shareholders.

Kristoffer Lindström, tech analyst at Redeye, says the company’s transition from telephone catalogue to digital services was the beginning of the end. “They have not been fast enough at adapting to the new kind of user behaviour. People have gone from searching locally to searching globally and suddenly Eniro was challenged by enormous tech giants with unlimited resources.”

Business Sweden’s CEO spies trend reversal

“Swedish exports are growing constantly, but not as quickly as exports from some growth countries, so our share of world trade is falling. However, during 2016, figures show for the first time that our share remained unchanged,” says Ylva Berg, CEO of Business Sweden.

Business Sweden regularly produces a report of Swedish exports, which fell from 2.1% on the global market in 2000 to 1.4% last year.

Ylva Berg believes that if Sweden is to defend its share of exports then more Swedish companies need to become established in important regions of growth such as Asia.

Five areas for reform

Writing in Dagens Industri (DI) today, the economic spokespersons for the four Alliance parties, state that the economic boom cannot hide the structural problems and imbalances in the Swedish economy. The gaps between those who have work and those who are dependent on benefits are growing.

They consider there to be five areas in which the government is driving Sweden in the wrong direction, including with its fiscal and economic policy, which they write “risks leading to overheating and an unsustainable build-up of debt.”

The alliance’s joint view on economic policy is that it should be more focused and more austere than the government is presenting. “Over the next three years, we therefore want to increase savings and paying off state debt by SEK 10 billion per year, compared to the government.”

Government plans to sue Danish state

The Swedish government is planning to sue the Danish state over a breach of the PostNord shareholder agreement, reports Dagens Nyheter.

There is a statutory requirement in Denmark that citizens must be able to receive digital post from the authorities. This has led to a 90% drop in letter deliveries in Denmark since 2000 and the Danish subsidiary of PostNord has seen revenues drop accordingly. With more than 3,000 employees entitled to three years’ severance pay in the event their jobs are axed, the carrier could be facing costs of SEK 6 billion. PostNord has asked the Danish and Swedish governments for a capital injection of SEK 3 billion, but Swedish Enterprise Minister Mikael Damberg has said “this is a Danish problem”. The lawsuit is seen as an attempt to force the Danes to back down

Banking union to the fore

Nordea’s plan to move its head office to Finland will be on the agenda when Pierre Moscovici, the European commissioner for economic and financial affairs, taxation and customs, visits Stockholm today. “There may be reason for reflection when one of your own banks moves to be inside the EU banking union,” Mr Moscovici tells Dagens Nyheter ahead of his visit.

With Sweden poised to launch an inquiry into the benefits and challenges of joining the banking union, the commissioner says “the door is always open, but no one is forced to join the euro”.

Alfa Laval exits Iran

Alfa Laval was one of many Swedish companies that tried to re-enter the Iranian market after the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) deal was struck in 2015, but the industrial company has now announced that it is scrapping plans to expand in Iran. “Doing business in a country such as Iran is not straightforward. The banks are a critical part of the equation; the financial transactions are not simple and require a lot of work,” says Peter Torstensson, vice president of communication at Alfa Laval.

One of the problems is that sanctions are making it impossible to carry out US-dollar transactions.

Deteriorating business climate in cities

The business climate in Sweden’s main cities has deteriorated sharply, according to the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise’s annual ranking.

In a survey of some 30,000 companies in the 290 municipalities, Stockholm has fallen to 123rd place, from 22nd place in 2014. Gothenburg ranks in 206th place, a new bottom score for the city, while Malmö, Uppsala, Linköping and Västerås have all hit their lowest rankings since the survey began in 2001.

Carola Lemne, head of the business federation, is concerned, given that the cities are engines of growth.

Johan Trouvé, CEO of Gothenburg’s Chamber of Commerce, believes the main problem is the attitude of the municipality’s bureaucrats. “They don’t understand the needs of the business world,” he says.

In Stockholm the problem is not just one of bureaucracy; a skills shortage, housing problems and inadequate infrastructure are other factors, according to Maria Rankka, CEO of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce.

High-speed rail investment

Sweden’s centre-right alliance parties promised investment in a new high-speed rail network prior to the 2014 general election, but afterwards the Moderates and the Liberals abandoned the project. The pendulum now appears to have swung back, however, with a number of senior Moderates, including Catharina Elmsäter Svärd, the former infrastructure minister, calling on party members to back a new financing plan for such a network.

Similar calls are also being heard among Liberals; Anita Jernberger, from the Östergötland region, says politicians must dare to believe in the project, which would allow Sweden to connect to the planned Denmark-Germany undersea Fehmarn tunnel

Telia admits bribery

Telia is being fined USD 965, around SEK 7.7 billion, for having bribed those in power in Uzbekistan. The company has reached agreement with the American authorities over corruption accusations and has admitted paying bribes of around SEK 2.6 billion.

The sum is in line with expectations and the company has made provisions for it. The sum is made up of a fine of around SEK 4.4 billion and a further SEK 3.6 billion for profits that they are considered to have made from paying the bribes.

CEO Johan Dennelind writes in a press release that the deal puts an end to a sad chapter in Telia Company’s history.