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Governments in Sweden shun privatization experts

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07:00 CET+01:00
A new survey shows that both centre-right and social democratic governments do a poor job at consulting experts when planning the sales of state-owned companies.

As the government made preparations for the sales of OMX, SBAB, TeliaSonera, and Vin & Sprit last year, it was criticized by the Swedish National Audit Office (SNAO) for not taking the views of agencies affected by the planned sales.

But it is not uncommon for governments to neglect the advice of agencies or expert organizations in preparing the sale of state-owned companies, according to the newspaper Riksdag & Departement.

At the request of the Riksdag's constitutional committee, the Ministry of Enterprise, Energy, and Communications (Näringsdepartementet) has reviewed 56 deals involving state-owned companies since the early 1990s.

The review uncovers only three cases in which the government has taken expert advice.

In each case, it was a social democratic government which sought advice.

Affected agencies were allowed to comment when the state become the owner of Apoteket, the pharmacy monopoly. A third of the shares had previously been indirectly owned by Apoteket's own pension fund.

The other two cases where agencies or expert organizations were allowed to voice their views occurred when the state sold its stake in the Swedish Central Securities Depository (VPC), and when the research company Imego was set to be privatized.

Following preparation of the deal, the government ultimately decided to retain Imego.

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