AstraZeneca invests in Södertälje

Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca is investing SKr 2.3 billion in a new plant in Södertälje to expand its biotech drug manufacturing. The planned investment will create between 150 and 250 new highly skilled jobs in Södertälje. Subject to future growth of the life science sector in Sweden, the investment could total SKr 8.2 billion, and finally lead to between 800 and 1,000 highly qualified jobs at the facility, says Pascal Soriot, chief executive of AstraZeneca.

According to Soriot, the company has chosen to invest in Sweden for three reasons; the highly skilled staff in Södertälje, the country’s good research base, and the favourable business climate and competitive tax levels.


EU must take action

In a Confederation of Swedish Enterprise survey, 93 per cent of Swedish listed companies have said they have been victims of piracy, or lost patent revenues as a result of counterfeiting. In addition, 80 per cent believe counterfeiting and piracy will rise in the coming years.

China has long been the leading producer of pirated goods, but the industry is growing in countries such as Russia, Nigeria and Turkey, reports business paper Dagens Industri.

Piracy is a matter for the government, and the EU, says Patrick Krassén, IPR manager at the Confederation. “It’s about putting political pressure on these countries in international negotiations. Additionally, the issue needs to be put on the political agenda in Sweden,” he remarks.

Four of ten reactors face closure

58abf086e222355f25d1dc2ec923910dSweden’s nuclear industry is under pressure as a result of falling electricity prices coupled with rapidly rising energy taxes, waste fees and new security requirements.

Vattenfall is already seeking the early shutdown of two of four reactors at the Ringhals nuclear power plant, and now plans are being drawn up to close two of the three reactors at Oskarshamn, according to energy market consultant Christian Holtz.

The deciding factor could be new independent core cooling requirements which will demand billions of kronor in investment, says Holtz.

Business leaders jeopardise stability

The widespread criticism of the December Agreement and the inflation target could lead to political chaos, warns Anders Ferbe, chair of the Metalworkers’ union (IF Metall) in Dagens Industri this morning. While commending the interest shown by business leaders for the political situation, they need to do their homework writes Ferbe and points out that the December deal has served to create the minimum of trust required to govern the country and ensure stability ahead of the autumn’s wage negotiations.

Mekonomen to expand in South Korea

Automotive workshop chain Mekonomen is expanding to South Korea with sales of proprietary spare parts range ProMeister. Sales will occur through collaboration with South Korean distributor EK (Eiko) Global, and will include cooperation on facilities with a ProMeister profile and training via ProMeister Academy.
“This is a milestone for Mekonomen, since our products and brands are now on the map of the large Asian market..,” writes Håkan Lundstedt, CEO.
The company already has a presence in the Nordic countries.

Rumours of new mining permits

The German division of Sweden’s state-owned Vattenfall has taken further steps to push for a mining permit for the open pit at Nochten II, sources have told SvD.

However, Mikael Petrovic-Wågmark Vattenfall’s head of Nordic press affairs, tells SvD that no investment decisions have been taken and no mining permits have been granted that will enable the company to expand its lignite operations.

Vattenfall seeks early shut down of reactors

Vattenfall announced yesterday that it was seeking to shut down reactors 1 and 2 at its Ringhals nuclear power plant between 2018 and 2020, rather than in 2025 as was previously planned.

Energy prices are falling and Vattenfall CEO Magnus Hall has said he does not see any indication that they will increase in the coming years. At the same time, the utility is facing increasing production costs, and intends to trim 1,000 staff. The cuts will affect staff in Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands, according to the CEO.

Magnus Hall has also said that the decision had been made on a commercial basis and that no political pressure had been exerted. However, he admitted that reactors which ran smoothly would probably not have to close, were it not for the new and higher tax on nuclear power.

The decision to shut down the reactors must be taken by the Ringhals board and presupposes that co-owner E.On will agree to the plans.

Jonas Abrahamsson, E.On manager for the Nordic region, said yesterday that it must first analyse the proposal.

The book value of Ringhals 1 and 2 is around SKr 15 billion. Were the two reactors to shut down, Vattenfall and E.On will be forced to make extensive write-downs.

“We are looking at the financial impact and aim to submit a report on this in conjunction with the Q2 report,” Magnus Hall told the press.

Hall responds to criticism

vattenfall_magnus_hall_600_256The planned divestment of Vattenfall’s German lignite business was one of the key issues on the agenda at the state-owned utility’s AGM on Monday. Left leader Jonas Sjöstedt wondered what environmental requirements were being made of potential buyers, to which CEO Magnus Hall replied: “Our view is that the environmental requirements for brown coal are a matter for the German government, not for Vattenfall”.

Hall denied rumours in the international press that the company is facing delays in the planned sale of its lignite business, following concerns over a proposed coal emissions levy.

“The process is most definitely not on hold. Our hope is that by the end of the year something will be on the table that the government can consider,” he said.

Vattenfall’s vision

Vattenfall faces huge financial challenges at the same time as demands are being made that the business should be sustainable, writes Magnus Hall, CEO of the Swedish state-owned utility, in Dagens Industri ahead of today’s AGM.

Outlining the strategic focus that will make Vattenfall competitive and at the fore of the energy shift, Hall also notes that Germany’s energy mix is a matter for German politicians, it is not a matter for Vattenfall or Swedish politicians. Furthermore, it is uncertain whether the closure of Vattenfall’s lignite business in Germany would lead to a significant reduction in Europe’s carbon emissions. There is a risk that Germany would need to import fossil fuel from its neighbours. Instead, the best way of reducing carbon emissions at EU-level would be to strengthen the emissions trading system, he says.