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Swedish finance minister argues for drier EU

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13:47 CET+01:00
Last week Swedish Finance Minister Pär Nuder tried to convince his EU colleagues to raise alcohol taxes and halve the quotas on imports of alcoholic beverages for private consumption.

Nuder's pleas seem to have had some effect for a new working group will be set up to discuss the issue. Nuder can expect to meet some opposition though, since many countries within the EU have no tax on wine at all.

Gambro to sell US clinics to DaVita

Swedish Gambro will be selling its US dialysis clinics to DaVita for some 20.5 billion crowns in cash. The deal will generate a capital gain of 8.1 billion crowns and add 13.2 billion to Gambro's coffers.

Gambro's chief executive, Sören Mellstig, was quick to tone down expectations of an extra dividend to shareholders and told the press that the money would be used to develop the group.

The US competition authorities must approve the deal but Sören Mellstig does not foresee any problems and believes the deal can be concluded some time in the first half of 2005.

BAE Systems and Saab go separate ways

British BAE Systems is to reduce its holding in Saab down to 20 per cent and dissolve the joint venture that markets the Gripen jet fighter. BAE Systems currently has a 34.2 per cent holding in Saab and will divest 15 million shares in January.

Last Tuesday's division is a result of the market situation, reported DI. It has become apparent that BAE's Eurofighter Typhoon is a serious competitor to the Gripen and it was seen as the beginning of the end of the joint venture when Austria chose the Eurofighter over the Gripen.

Åke Svensson, Saab's chief executive said to DI: "I don't believe that this has any dramatic impact on our opportunities to sell the Gripen on the export market. It feels right that we as a company shoulder the main responsibility for selling one of our main products."

War of words over food prices

The Swedish Research Institute of Trade (HUI) has criticised international comparisons of food prices - in which Sweden usually comes out most expensive. HUI claims that comparisons with eastern European countries distort figures. HUI also believes that the problem with Sweden's food prices is due to high taxes, not to a lack of competition.

Karl Lundvall of the Swedish Competition Authority dismisses HUI's criticisms, saying "the trend in food prices is moving in the right direction, but we are starting from an extremely high level".

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, Dagens Industri

Supplied by BECK TRANSLATIONS.

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