Falkengren under pressure

Major shareholders in SEB are concerned that Annika Falkengren, the chief executive of SEB will no longer be able to give full attention to her duties as CEO, given that she is also a member of the VW board. “We’re genuinely concerned as to how this will affect SEB. Particularly since the bank’s CEO could be subject to damages in the US,” a SEB shareholder representative tell Dagens Industri.
Falkengren is also a member of the boards of Securitas, Scania and the Wallenberg Foundations’ holding company Foundation Asset Management.

Comments on VW scandal

German carmaker Volkswagen (VW) will set aside SKr 60 billion for fines to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), after revelations that VW has deceived US regulators in exhaust emissions tests.
Speculation is rife as to whether VW chief executive Martin Winterkorn may have to step down. However, Christer Karlsson, professor at Copenhagen Business School, says that he believes Winterkorn should be forced to stay and clear up the mess.
SEB’s Annika Falkengren, who sits on VW’s supervisory board, did not wish to comment on the incident on Tuesday.
Stefan Elfström, spokesman at Volvo Cars, says that Volvo has not certified any diesel cars in the US, nor does the company use similar software to that used by VW.

Vattenfall’s lignite mining for sale

State-owned utility Vattenfall has invited potential bidders to state their interest in all of Vattenfall’s German lignite assets, reports Dagens Industri online.
“A key step in the sales process and Vattenfall’s energy portfolio strategy shift,” states the company in a press release.
Bidders will also be able to bid for the utility’s hydro assets in Germany in conjunction with the sale. The sales process is expected to continue into 2016, and Citigroup and ING have been appointed financial advisors in the transaction.
Vattenfall remains fully committed to its other business operations in Germany, such as district heating, electricity distribution, sales, trading and wind.

Support for global start-ups

The government’s new export strategy, to be presented next week, will be tailored to provide more specialist and extensive support for the young, entrepreneurial firms that seek early and rapid internationalisation, reveals Mikael Damberg, the enterprise minister in DI.
Among other things, the government will task the National Board of Trade to map the major obstacles to trade for these firms both within and beyond the EU, writes Damberg.
These global-born companies attract the world’s attention and contribute to strengthening Sweden’s competitive edge, writes the minister.

Priority on jobs

An Ipsos/DI survey among 2,300 senior executives of companies with yearly sales of over SKr 10 million shows that 60% consider investments in job creation should be the top priority in the upcoming autumn budget bill, to be presented on Monday.
There is little confidence among business leaders in the government’s budget proposals so far, says Günther Mårder, head of the Swedish Association of Business Owners (Företagarna).
School education and integration list as the second and third most important areas to invest in, shows the survey, while environment and the climate are given lower priority among these business leaders.
Moreover, there are major differences between how female and male business executives prioritise jobs and defence, comments DI.

Business world in talks with SD

A number of employer organisations, including the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, Almega and the Swedish Federation of Business Owners, have been interacting with the Sweden Democrats (SD) in a bid to influence policy in a direction favourable to their members.

The issue is sensitive, and many businesses are unwilling to comment. However, Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg tells Dagens Industri (DI) that SD officials have visited the company, but that this was on the initiative of the party, while entrepreneur Dan Olofsson tells the paper he believes that the business world should talk to all parties.

Apparently, one of the issues under discussion has been profit-making in the welfare sector. Left Party leader Jonas Sjöstedt has reacted furiously to the news, accusing risk capitalists of trying to rescue profits with the help of a racist party.

Closure predicted despite investment

The Oskarshamn 2 reactor is likely to be shut down for good. Following months of negotiations, principal owner E.ON is insisting the reactor, which has been shut down for more than two years during a multi-billion kronor upgrade, should not be re-started. The power company says Oskarshamn 1, which is the oldest reactor, should also be shut down early, i.e. sometime between 2017 and 2020.

Finland’s Fortum, which is a major stakeholder in Oskarshamn operator OKG, has contested this, but experts believe E.ON will win the battle.

“Our main scenario is that Oskarshamn 2 has produced its last kilowatt hour,” says Christian Holtz, from consultant firm Sweco.

Brazil Gripen deal takes effect

Yesterday the Saab defence and security group announced that the contract signed with Brazil in October 2014 for the supply of 36 Gripen NG combat aircraft has come into effect. The conditions from Brazil associated with the financing of the deal have been fulfilled. Brazil will pay for the SKr 39.3 billion order with credit from the Swedish export credit corporation (SEK).
The aircraft will be built both in Sweden and Brazil and deliveries will run from 2019 to 2024.
Håkan Buskhe, CEO of Saab, said the deal would mean growing interest in Gripen and other Saab products. The defence group has Gripen deals in the pipeline with Belgium, Indonesia, India and Finland.

Sweden lagging behind

Recent figures show that Sweden’s industrial output declined unexpectedly in July. Few have taken note of the fact that Swedish output has shrunk by 10% over the last five years on a par with Italy, Spain and Greece. If Swedish industrial output had grown on a par with Germany and Belgium, production would have been 20% higher today, writes Stefan Fölster, head of the Reform Institute.
Shrinking output will impact on growth and the unemployment goal, warns Fölster, and suggests that the government must take a comprehensive approach in calculating the cost of taxes and incentives so that areas of Sweden where industry is in decline are not abandoned.