Östros intends to hold on to state companies

The Treasury stands to receive 17.1 billion kronor in dividends from state-owned companies as the companies’ net profits rose by 45% to 31.5 billion kronor in 2004.

Thomas Östros, minister for industry and trade, is particularly pleased with mineral group LKAB’s performance, which last year doubled its pre-tax profit to just over 2 billion kronor.

However, in a radio interview last week, Moderate MP Mikael Odenberg proposed that Vattenfall and LKAB should be divested. In a comment to the proposal, Thomas Östros says that, “It would be insane to sell LKAB. We can never agree to divest infrastructure or natural assets.”

Although state-owned companies are posting record profits, they are now employing fewer people. In all, state companies employed some 137,000 at the end of last year, a decline of almost 7,000 year-on-year.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, Dagens Industri

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