Approximately 380,000 job seekers were registered with the Swedish Public Employment Service (Arbets-förmedlingen) at the end of January, an increase of 30,000 compared to a year ago. Furthermore, around 40% of the job seekers have been unemployed for more than a year. The unemployment rate now stands at 7.4%, says the agency.
Unemployment is unevenly distributed in Sweden, with the counties of Halland and Uppsala having the lowest levels of unemployment. In contrast, the unemployment rate in former industrial communities in Blekinge, Gävleborg and Södermanland, for example, is over 10%.
The unemployment rate is likely to increase in future, particularly among those who have spent less time in education. “Education is a divider. Our forecast is that those who do not have an upper secondary education will have even less chance in future,” says Sandra Offesson, an analyst at the agency.
Volvo Cars and Geely Automobile are in talks to merge the two businesses into a global carmaker with listings in Hong Kong and Stockholm. A joint working group will be created to prepare a proposal for their respective boards. The group will be headed by Volvo Cars’ CEO Håkan Samuelsson and the aim is to find a solution by the end of the year.
The two carmakers wish to retain their individual identities, but a merger would accelerate technological synergies, according to Volvo Cars’ press officer, Stefan Elmström.
“The whole group sees a need to find technological synergies. The CMA platform on which the Volvo XC40 is based was developed by Geely's technology company in Gothenburg, which is proof that we can achieve synergies and gain economies of scale if we combine our companies,” he says.
The news of a potential merger has been well-received by insurers AMF and Folksam, which recently together acquired preference shares to a value of SEK 5 billion in Volvo Cars. AMF’s Anders Oscarsson says it is the company’s belief that the carmaker belongs on the stock market.
The Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS) is hoping to hold auctions for the frequencies that are needed for the next generation of high-speed networks, 5G, in October.
This entails a delay of almost a year after a new law came into force at the start of the year. The law is intended to improve network security.
Before any licences are issued, the Swedish Security Service (SÄPO) and the Armed Forces will have a say on which rules should apply as telecoms suppliers expand the network.
In December 2018, Swedish activist investor Cevian Capital took a 2.3% stake in Nordea, the Nordic region’s largest bank. Cevian has since acquired an additional 84 million shares in Nordea, bringing its stake up to 4.3% and making it the second-largest shareholder in the bank, reports Dagens Industri.
With Nordea trading at a discount, Cevian co-founder Christer Gardell does not rule out the possibility of further investment.
However, “profitability has to rise substantially. This calls for increased revenue, higher cost efficiency and better use of capital. The implementation must take place at the highest possible pace and without unnecessary time delay,” Mr Gardell tells the business daily.
Seeing no reason why Nordea cannot achieve a return of equity of 12-14%, in line with the bank’s competitors, Cevian “expects” Nordea to take steps in this direction in 2020.
Ahead of the negotiations on the autumn budget, the Green Party says it hopes to tighten bonus malus rules. Anyone buying an electric or chargeable hybrid car will continue to receive a bonus, while those who buy gas-guzzling cars will have to pay a higher vehicle tax, if the party has its way.
Taking aim at SUVs, party spokesman Lorentz Tovatt says it is “totally unreasonable that more and more city dwellers are buying” these cars, which have no place in urban areas.
The party is also hoping to lower carbon emission levels in the bonus malus system and review taxes on company cars.
The Greens said last week they would be demanding a refund of the bonus the government pays for low emission vehicles, if these cars were exported shortly after purchase.
At the end of January, Com Hem reported Telia to the European Commission Monitoring Trustee, saying the operator was in breach of terms for streaming rights for the approval of the acquisition of Bonnier Broadcasting.
Telia now confirms that it has been ordered by the EU to clarify certain details and continue talks with Com Hem/Tele2.
“In light of this, the government should … assume a responsibility, as the principal owner of Telia and TV4,” says Com Hem CEO Anders Nilsson.
New car registrations fell in January, dropping by 18 per cent year-on-year. Sales of plug-in electric cars rose however, and they now make up 30.7 per cent of new car registrations, according to the Bil Sweden trade association.
The Moderates want to scrap the bonus malus system for electric cars. This is partly due to the export of the vehicles as well as expert comment in which the government has been criticised for not achieving climate targets effectively. Both the National Institute of Economic Research and the SNS Economic Policy Council have questioned the system in various reports.
The Moderates are expected to present a proposal to replace the system in the spring. “The aim is to find instruments that effectively lower emissions and transform the vehicle fleet,” says Louise Meijer, the party’s climate spokesperson.
Postal service PostNord reported a loss of SEK 239 million for 2019, compared to a loss of SEK 1, 067 billion in 2018. Letter volumes declined by 8% in 2019 and CEO Annemarie Gardshol expects volumes to decline by 50% in the coming years.
To understand the extent of the decline, a 12% decline in letter volumes leads to a loss in revenues of SEK 1 billion, according to Gardshol.
The postal service has been given the go-ahead by the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority to distribute letters every second day instead of every weekday, but in practice the government must extend the time for letters to arrive, from two to three days – so-called three-day distribution.
Infrastructure Minister Anders Ygeman has already said he is not prepared to discuss this option, pending the outcome of an inquiry in 2022.
The annual report also showed that PostNord is losing ground in the e-commerce market and the delivery of parcels. The market as a whole is growing by 15-20% annually but PostNord’s growth in the market in the fourth quarter was a mere 0.8%.
The government has told the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket) to tighten procurement procedures, following a report from the National Audit Office (Riksrevisionen) which found systematic deficiencies in the administration’s practices.
On average, the contract costs for the maintenance of roads have soared by 40 per cent, found the Audit Office.
“One conclusion we have drawn is that suppliers deliberately submit low bids for tenders,” says a spokesman for the Audit Office. Additional services then cause project costs to soar; something the administration has failed to take into consideration when offering tenders.
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