Prosecutor ends inquiry

Prosecutor Alf Johansson has decided to end the inquiry into elk hunting trips organised by paper making giant Holmen. Anders Borg, the former finance minister, investor Fredrik Lundberg and Pär Boman, chairman of Handelsbanken, were among those questioned by prosecutors investigating allegations of bribery connected to the hunting trips.

Anders Borg expressed relief after the prosecutor ended the inquiry, saying: “I have been certain all along that I acted correctly, but it is still a huge relief that the process has come to an end”.

According to Holmen CEO Henrik Sjölund, the company intends to continue with its hunting trips.

Concerns over tighter monetary policcy

In 2016 Sweden’s national pension funds reported aggregate earnings of SKr 118 billion, corresponding to an average return of 9.7%.

After five years of exceptional growth, which has primarily been fuelled by expansionary monetary policy, there are now indications that monetary policy will tighten.

Kerstin Hessius, the CEO of the Third Swedish pension fund (AP3), has expressed concerns over what will happen when Sweden’s central bank, the Riksbank, starts raising interest rates. She wonders if the adjustment will be dramatic, or orderly, saying that in the worst case scenario it will lead to significant “destruction of capital”.

Sweden focuses on rail network

One year ago during Almedalen week, a group made up of Ramböll, FS Links, Setterwalls law firm, a number of consultants and the US company Hyperloop One, presented plans to build a hyperloop high-speed transportation network, linking the Finnish capital Helsinki to Stockholm.

According to FS Links Mårten Fröjdö, the Swedish government has since been in contact with the group’s consultants, but Infrastructure Minister Anna Johansson says she is unaware of this. While the government is interested in following developments and receiving an idea of the investment cost, Johansson considers a hyperloop network theoretical at the moment, although it could be of interest in the future. The minister says the government’s focus is instead on the plans to build a high-speed rail network, linking Sweden’s three main cities.

In Finland, meanwhile, the group has plans to make the city of Salo home to the first test station for the hyperloop technology.

Gripen could replace Austria’s Eurofighter jets

Amid a dispute with Airbus (ed.), Austrian Defence Minister Hans Peter Doskozil said on Friday that the country’s 15 Eurofighter jets would be replaced early.

New fighter jets will be delivered between 2020 and 2023, and the current version of Saab’s Gripen is favoured to replace the Eurofighter.

Austria would like to strike a deal with Sweden, which via the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration, FMV, is offering 15 single-seater Gripen C, and three two-seater Gripen D jets, the version used by the Swedish Air Force.

Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) reports that Lockheed Martin’s F16 is also a potential candidate, and it is feasible that other alternatives could be in the running.

A deal will need to be struck by 2018 in order for deliveries to be made in 2020, and the Austrian government therefore intends to lease the aircraft to save time.

There is said to be broad political support in Austria to replace the Eurofighter jets, which could be significant as the country goes to the polls on 15 October.

Saab could have an advantage in that the Gripen is already used in two of Austria’s neighbouring countries, and is also being eyed by Slovakia.

EBM drops investigation

The Swedish Economic Crime Authority (EBM) has dropped its investigation into suspected manipulation of Fingerprint Cards’ share price by five US hedge funds in 2016, saying that trading in the share was not unusual at the time.

However, prosecutor JanTibbling did say that a number of transactions named in the report submitted to EBM were subject to scrutiny in other investigations concerning Fingerprint Cards.

Kristersson accuses government of waste

On Wednesday, the Ministry of Finance revised upwards its forecast for growth to between 2 and 2.5% up until 2020. Net lending has been revised up to SKr 85 billion, and the unemployment rate is expected to be 6.3% in 2018.

The figures show there are major differences between various groups: the native-born unemployment rate is under 4% while the foreign-born employment rate is almost 14%.

Ulf Kristersson, the Moderates’ spokesman on economic policy, accuses the government of wasting the boom in the economy, and calls for long-term reform linked to jobs, integration and the housing market.

The government has said that the number of children and older people in Sweden will increase significantly and forecasts that investment in public welfare services will need to increase by SKr 40 billion by 2025.

Kristersson shares this view, but is critical of government claims that there is no scope for tax cuts, saying this is “qualified nonsense”.

New innovation centre

China Euro Vehicle Technology (CEVT), Geely Holding Group’s development company in Gothenburg, has grown rapidly since its start in 2013. Among other things, the company has developed a new and smaller platform for Volvo and Geely cars, launching a new car brand, Lynk & Co.

Geely has already invested some SKr 10 billion in CEVT, which is outgrowing its present premises, and has decided to build a new innovation centre with offices and housing on Lindholmen. The 80,000 square metre property will also house Geely’s sales and marketing unit, ahead of the launch of Lynk & Co in Europe. CEVT currently has 2,000 in its employ and expects to create a further 1,500 jobs once the centre is built.

Concern over long-term impact

After years of debate, six parties have agreed on a democracy criterion when evaluating arms sales. The new criterion will have an impact on Saab, the defence and security group, which reported sales of SKr 28.6 billion in 2016. Besides the Gripen fighter jet, one of Saab’s most important products is GlobalEye, the multi-role airborne surveillance system. Saab’s export market, which accounts for 60% of the group’s sales, is of huge importance to GlobalEye.

Douglas Lindahl, analyst at Kepler Chevreux, sees the new criterion as bad news for Saab, which has major interests in deals that could now be at risk.

Last year Saab was given the go-ahead to export GlobalEye to Saudi Arabia, which leads the intervention in Yemen, and the company views the Kingdom on the Arabian Peninsula as a growth market, according to Lindahl.

Saab does not wish to comment until it has more information, but a number of analysts DI has spoken to believe that Sweden will circumvent the rules, as it has done in the past, in order to protect its defence industry.

Meanwhile, Tommy Gustafsson-Rask, CEO of BAE Systems Hägglunds is positive to the fact that broad agreement has been reached after two years of uncertainty. Simultaenously, there is concern about the long-term impact of the criterion.

Skills shortage slows housebuilding

The National Board of Housing, Building and Planning (Boverket) has said Sweden needs to build 700,000 homes by 2025 to solve its housing shortage.

However, a shortage of electricians and plumbers is slowing the process of meeting the housebuilding target. Jens Albrektsson, a spokesman for the employer organisation Installationsföretagen, says the industry would need to recruit an extra 20,000 to meet the target.

Speculation over Hexagon

Hexagon yesterday commented the news that it is in early-stage talk with rivals on a potential sale (see SPR 14/6 Early Ed.), saying that it had “noted the recent speculation in media regarding a potential acquisition of the company. Hexagon regularly evaluates various opportunities to optimise the company’s positioning and shareholder value. Should these evaluations lead to concrete results, the market will be immediately informed”.

One analyst tells DI that this is nothing less than an invitation to other parties. “They’re talking to someone and want other interested parties to be aware of this.”

According to the Financial Times, Hexagon has been working with Goldman Sachs and HSBC to gauge interest from rivals such as ABB, Schneider Electric, Siemens and GE.

Daniel Djurberg, Handelsbanken analyst, believes Hexagon’s IES would suit ABB Robotics, but leans towards an American conglomerate such as Honeywell, while SEB’s Daniel Schmidt believes GE and Siemens are likely candidates.