Earlier this month Telia said that it had agreed to sell its stake in Azerbaijan mobile operator Azercell to state-owned Azintelecom for the equivalent of SEK 2.2 billion. The price raises questions, according to SvD, which notes that Telia valued its stake in Azercell at SEK 6.4 billion in 2008, one year after making the acquisition.
The newspaper suggests there is an “extensive risk of corruption” associated with the deal. Sources are comparing it with one made in Uzbekistan: Telia last year paid penalties of SEK 7.7 billion to US and Dutch authorities to resolve an investigation into corrupt payments involving telecom contracts in Uzbekistan (ed.). (SvD bus: 4)
Switzerland is planning to begin the procurement of new fighter jets this summer reports AFP, citing an anonymous military source. The Swiss recently published the specifications for the procurement of new fighters to replace the current fleet.
Five models are being considered. In addition to Saab’s Gripen E, Dassault’s Rafale, the Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin’s F-35 and Boeing’s F/A-18 are in the mix. Switzerland plans to spend CHF 8 billion on the procurement.
The timetable foresees a decision being taken in 2020, with orders being placed in 2021-2022 and deliveries starting in 2025
The government wants to transfer more freight from Sweden’s roads to the railways and is to launch a review of state-owned rail freight operator Green Cargo’s short- and long-term strategies to this end. Although Green Cargo has struggled financially for some time, the government considers the operator to be a financial asset and is mulling the possibility of merging Green Cargo with SJ, the state-owned operator of passenger trains.
We are not drawing any conclusions right now, but if it turns out that Green Cargo would do better in cooperation with SJ, we will consider that option,” Enterprise Minister Mikael Damberg says.
The government is also instructing SJ to “contribute” to the provision of nationwide access to train services.
Green Party spokesperson Isabella Lövin has announced that the government will invite the opposition to talks on a new high-speed network between Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö. Talking to Dagens Industri (DI), Lövin describes a Swedish Transport Administration plan to limit train speeds to 250 km/h as “unrealistic” and indicates that the government wants rail links that would allow trains to travel at 320 km/h by 2035.
The Centre Party and the Christian Democrats are positive, although the Moderates and the Liberals have already rejected the project, which is estimated to cost SEK 235 billion. Lövin says it is not necessary to have all four alliance parties on board and she hopes an agreement can be struck later in the spring.
She believes state-owned airport operator Swedavia should shelve plans to build a fourth runway at Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport, pointing out that the government has not agreed to an expansion.
Sweden’s exports have broken all records and, for the first time, exports from all counties are increasing. “This is extremely pleasing and shows that exports work as an engine for economic growth in the whole country,” says Trade Minister Ann Linde. Sweden’s exports of goods increased by 10 per cent in 2017, to SEK 1,307 billion.
In addition to healthy global growth and therefore demand for Swedish products, the government is also taking the credit for the increase in exports nationwide.
“We discovered in 2014 that Sweden’s exports were not going as well as they should and that our economy therefore grew mainly due to strong domestic consumption. For this reason, we developed and launched a powerful strategy,” says Ann Linde. (DI: 6)
The EU and the US have agreed to initiate a process immediately to discuss trade issues, including steel and aluminium, to reach a mutually acceptable solution, wrote the EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström on Twitter on Wednesday after a meeting with the US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in Washington.
EU sources have told Nyhetsbyrån Direkt that it does not mean the EU will be exempted from the US import tariffs yet. (DN I: 22)
According to a survey by Sifo, seven of ten Swedes want to be able to pay with cash in the future. It is mainly older people who want this possibility, although there is also a majority among young adults.
Governor of the Riksbank, Stefan Ingves, has expressed concern about a cashless society. In a crisis situation, responsibility for Swedes’ payment methods will fall entirely on commercial players, he wrote in February.
Despite years of losses, Spotify dominates the world’s music services. However, SvD asks, can the Swedish IT wonder retain its leading position when its main rivals are global giants such as Google, Apple and Tencent?
Editor-in-chief at the newspaper Musikindustrin Lars Nylin, comments, “There is nothing acute that would change Spotify’s market position in the next six months, as far as I can see. Although we do not know how the company’s IPO is going to go.” On 3 April, the company will begin trading on the New York stock exchange. Initial estimates have valued the company at SEK 184 billion; money that could be crucial if competitors start to make their own investments.
The flotation is not Spotify’s only card, however. At the end of 2017, the company signed a huge deal with Chinese internet giant Tencent’s music division Tencent Music Entertainment (TME) so TME now owns 7.5% of Spotify’s shares and Spotify owns 9% of TME. This gives Spotify a better hand in licence negotiations with large record companies. (SvD bus: 11)
The state budget surplus was SEK 52 billion higher than expected, at SEK 62 billion for 2017, according to figures from the Swedish National Financial Management Authority (ESV).
The higher figure is primarily due to expenditure being SEK 49 billion lower than expected, in addition to tax revenues being SEK 22 billion higher than had been budgeted.
Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson points out that several items cost less than the government had calculated, and with more in work, employers’ contributions have increased.
ESV expert Eva Engberg emphasises the complexity of the state budget and that it is not a given that a higher surplus is a positive. “It could also concern activities that were planned but were not implemented,” she says. Magdalena Andersson says this is not the case but that spending on subsidised employment was lower than expected. (17/3 DN I: 30)
An overwhelming majority (96.9%) of shareholders voted to approve Nordea’s plans to transfer its headquarters from Sweden to Finland on Thursday. The bank is moving to cut the cost of Swedish regulation and to join the European Banking Union.
After the AGM, Nordea Chairman Björn Wahlroos took a swipe at the Swedish government, saying that “the business climate in Sweden could be managed a little better,” while giving assurances that the move would not affect Nordea’s business in Sweden. He also said Nordea could not wait for Sweden to decide whether it would join the Union, or not.
Financial Markets Minister Per Bolund has told business daily Dagens Industri he does not believe the Swedish government’s threat of a bank tax, or its plan to raise resolution fees, has influenced Nordea in its decision to move.
However, Exane BNP Paribas’ Andreas Håkansson is merciless in his criticism of the government, saying its actions had forced “one of Sweden’s largest companies out of the country”.
Moderate spokeswoman Elisabeth Svantesson holds a similar view to Håkansson, saying: “This has been clumsily managed by the government”.
We are a small, but qualified team of graduates in politics, economics, English and classics dedicated to providing quality news digests in English that offer readers a first-hand look at the most important topics covered by the Swedish press. Here you will find a selection of the articles that are published in our Swedish Press Review.