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INSURANCE

Skandia “can remain independent”

Skandia chief executive Hans-Erik Andersson said in a newspaper interview the Swedish insurer, an acquisition target for a slew of companies, can survive independently without being acquired.

Commenting on talks about a possible takeover of the company, Andersson told German daily Die Welt: “It is … clear — and this has been confirmed by the supervisory board — that Skandia can stand on its own feet with its current strategy.”

But he admitted that “an acquisition is always possible, after all we are a listed company”.

The comments come after UK-listed South Africa-based insurer Old Mutual PLC information director James Poole was quoted in the press as saying the company is very interested, and very serious about buying the whole of Skandia.

Andersson also told Die Welt that the company is focusing on organic growth rather than acquisitions.

“We have hardly any experience with acquisitions. We are good, however, at establishing new companies. That’s why I believe that we will continue to grow organically,” Andersson said.

He said Skandia has a “relatively narrow business model” that does not correspond to the strategies of most of the other insurers, while those with similar business models “are not of interest to us”

“We have been offered companies to acquire, but most of them did not fit into our concept,” the CEO added. (AFP)

TAKEOVER

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." 

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