Sweden

Sweden’s central bank plans still to raise interest rates this year or early next but increases would then be at a slower pace than previously forecast, prompting the currency to rally against the euro in early trading, the Financial Times reported. The Riksbank, in a statement on Thursday accompanying its decision to keep rates on hold at minus 0.25 per cent, said that “as before” borrowing costs “are expected to be raised towards the end of the year or at the beginning of next year”.

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A potential crashing out of the EU by the UK would be the “greatest risk to the Swedish financial system” over the next six months as market participants felt that domestic factors had faded in comparison, Sweden’s central bank found in a survey, the Financial Times reported. “The risk of a disorderly UK withdrawal from the EU is the foremost risk factor for the Swedish financial system in the period ahead,” the Riksbank, in its six-month study on the Swedish fixed-income and foreign exchange markets, said on Wednesday.

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Piraeus Bank, the biggest Greek lender, has announced a partnership with Sweden’s Intrum group to reduce a €7bn pile of bad loans that has been holding back its capacity to finance companies that survived the country’s economic crisis, the Financial Times reported. The €410m deal will create a new Greek debt collection business 80 per cent owned by Intrum and 20 per cent by Piraeus. However, the bank’s non-performing debt, which amounts to almost half the loan book, will remain on its balance sheet.

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Sweden’s Riksbank said it will hold its main rate steady longer than previously expected and announced an 18-month bond-buying programme to start from July — the latest major central bank to take a more dovish shift on monetary policy. The Riksbank, which on Thursday kept its repo rate at a quarter of a point below zero, said it will purchase government bonds for a nominal value of SKr45bn (€4.2bn) from July until December 2020. It added that its benchmark interest rate will remain at minus 0.25 per cent “for a somewhat longer period of time than was forecast in February”.

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Sweden's Skanska does not expect to hit an operating margin target for its construction business this year or next, sending its shares down nearly 3 percent on Wednesday, the International New York Times reported on a Reuters story. The Nordic region's biggest building firm, which is also one of the largest in the United States, is restructuring its construction division due to weak profitability and project writedowns, mainly in Poland and the United States.

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However bad a spiralling money laundering scandal has been to the three Baltic countries, it could get even worse. Financial regulators in Estonia and Latvia told the Financial Times they were afraid Swedish banks — which dominate both headlines on money laundering and their banking systems — could withdraw from the region, just as Danske Bank and Nordea have already done amid dirty money allegations, the Financial Times reported. “Sure, we are very worried,” said Peters Putnins, head of the Latvian regulator.

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Residential skyscrapers are rare in Stockholm, a city permeated by five-story, classic stone buildings built at the turn of the last century. That’s now changing, Bloomberg News reported. The most spectacular addition to the skyline is nearing completion: A 125-meter, brutalist structure that could be mistaken for a tower of Lego blocks. Innovationen offers panorama windows and balconies overlooking the red, yellow and orange facades of the Vasastan neighborhood.

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Scandinavians are taking a hard look at their institutions as allegations of systematic money laundering rock the entire region, Bloomberg News reported. With Swedbank AB becoming the latest lender to get dragged into a dirty money scandal that’s already engulfed Danske Bank A/S, those at the top of Sweden’s financial establishment are speaking out. Hans Lindblad, the director general of the Swedish National Debt Office, says the financial industry now risks losing the trust of the people. He says the consequences of that would be dire for the whole economy.

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Reliance Communications has deposited $18.6m at India’s supreme court in a “partial payment” to creditor Ericsson, which is pushing to have its chairman Anil Ambani imprisoned for alleged contempt of court, the Financial Times reported. Last week, the Swedish group filed a petition with India’s supreme court, accusing RCom of breaching a court order to pay $79m in unpaid dues. It alleged that the telecom company had “illegally pocketed” the proceeds of asset sales, instead of transferring funds to creditors.

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Swedish group Ericsson has asked India’s top court to send tycoon Anil Ambani to prison, after his troubled Reliance Communications allegedly breached a court order to pay $79m in unpaid dues, the Financial Times reported. RCom, once India’s most valuable telecom company, has been fighting to stave off bankruptcy for more than a year, after suffering a heavy loss of market share. Ericsson had originally claimed Rs11bn ($158m) in unpaid fees for outsourced management services, and launched insolvency proceedings against RCom last year.

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