Icelandic investors battle for Skandia

Two rival Icelandic consortiums have taken major steps to seize control of Skandia.

Icelandic dollar-millionaire Björgólfur Thor Björgólfsson has been snapping up shares in Skandia over the last few months. Björgólfsson’s consortium, which includes Icelandic investment banks Burdarás and Landsbanki according to DI, now controls 3% of the comapny – worth over a billion kronor – making it one of the biggest shareholders.

With Iceland’s largest bank Kaupthing yesterday signalling that they now own 2.5% in Skandia, it looks like Kaupthing and Björgólfsson’s consortium are set to struggle for control of Skandia.

Burdarás and Kaupthing seem to be in the process of establishing themselves as major European players in the financial sector. Both have recently taken over banks and companies in Sweden, Denmark and the UK.

Last summer the two fought to buy Danish bank FIH from Föreningssparbanken, with Kaupthing eventually emerging as the winner.

Whatever happens at Skandia, the likely winners of a battle between the Icelandic rivals would be Skandia’s other shareholders.

It is expected that the latest developments will lead to changes on Skandia’s Board.

Sources: Svenska Dagbladet, Dagens Industri


Scania review board dissects Volkswagen bid

The independent committee looking at Volkswagen's take-over bid of Swedish truck giant Scania began its work on Tuesday, stating promises that headquarters would remain in Sweden were paramount.

Scania review board dissects Volkswagen bid
IF Metall Union representative Johan Järvklo sits on the independent review board. File: TT

Åsa Thunman was appointed chairwoman of the committee, which has invited financial consultants from Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley as well as legal advisors from Swedish law firm Mannheimer Swartling to assist them in their appraisal.

Thunman said in a statement that the committee would look at whether the $9.2 billion bid was in the best interest of Scania shareholders.

The effect on Swedish industry would also be considered, underlined committee board member Peter Wallenberg Jr.

"It has noted that Volkswagen does not foresee any significant changes with regards to Scania and that Scania’s headquarters and its development centres will remain where they are today," Wallenberg Jr. said. "These matters are of course of importance to the company and for Sweden.”

At the plant in Södertälje, employees have been busy discussing the bid. Assembly line worker Ahmed told The Local that his colleagues did not fear that production would be relocated to Germany.

"They couldn't possibly move all these machines and equipment," Ahmed, which is not his real name, told The Local on Tuesday. "But everyone on the floor has been discussing the offer."

Volkswagen tabled their $9.2 billion bid to swallow up Scania last Friday. It already owns 89 percent of Scania's voting rights and 62.6 percent of the company, with VW eager to secure the nearly 40 percent they do not own. The takeover has encountered resistance from two of Scania's minority owners, however. Both insurance outfit Skandia and pension fund AP4 have expressed reservations about selling up to Volkswagen.

“Scania’s prerequisites to maintain its leading position are better as a listed company than as a subsidiary in a larger group. Skandia doesn't intend to accept the offer," Caroline af Ugglas, head of equities at Skandia, told Bloomberg over the weekend.

Scania, which was founded in 1891 and has operations in more than 100 countries, boasts 38,600 employees. Around 16,000 work with sales and servicescross the company's subsidiaries, and over 12,000 work in production units. The company has headquarters in the Swedish town of Södertälje, where almost 6,000 employees work. The headquarters also hosts the research and development operations, with 3,300 employees.

"Changing owners won't make any difference to us in the near future," assembly line worker Ahmed said. "But we do wonder if the rules will change later on."