Capital markets show signs of easing

Several major Swedish firms have been able to attract capital in the spring, according to a new market survey by the business daily Dagens Industri. For smaller firms capital markets remain closed, however.

The spurt of spring investments have amounted to a total of 185 billion kronor ($22.65 billion) and have benefited Swedish firms such as SEB, Nordea, SAS and Husqvarna.

Foreign firms with significant operations in Sweden, such as as well Statoil Hydro and Fortum, have also attracted capital.

“The market for primary capital to stock market listed firms is functioning well. But investors are very harsh with regard to which firms receive capital,” Thomas Westin at Nordea Corporate Finance told Dagens Industri.

Investors have been attracted by offers of both new bond loans and new share issues.

“In cool markets it is only the best that works, in hot markets everybody gets money,” Westin said to Dagens Industri.

For smaller firms and risky projects the capital markets are in principle closed.

“In an uncertain market it is difficult to get financing,” concluded Ulf Nolén, a partner at consultancy firm Deloitte.

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Swedish central bank sells bonds ‘for climate reasons’

Sweden's Riksbank has sold government bonds issued by Canadian and Australian states "for climate reasons", in one of the first cases of a central bank joining the global divestment movement.

Swedish central bank sells bonds 'for climate reasons'
The Bulga Coal complex in New South Wales, Australia. Photo: Glencore
Deputy Governor Martin Flodén revealed on Wednesday that the bank had in April divested itself of bonds issued by the Canadian province of Alberta, and more recently sold bonds issued by the Australian states of Queensland and Western Australia. 
“We will not invest in assets issued by issuers with a large climate footprint,” he explained in a speech at Örebro University on Wednesday.  “Australia and Canada are countries that are not known for good climate work. Greenhouse gas emissions per capita are among the highest in the world.” 
Flodén said the move followed a decision last year by the bank's executive board to take sustainability into account when making investment decisions. 
“We can contribute to the climate work to some extent by giving consideration to sustainability aspects when investing in the foreign exchange reserves,” Flodén said. “We are now doing this by rejecting issuers who have a large climate footprint.” 
Alberta's tar sands are some of the most polluting hydrocarbons in the world, while Queensland and Western Australia host some of the world's biggest coal mines. 
In a statement emailed to reporters, Christine Myatt, spokeswoman for Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, insisted that Alberta had the “highest environmental standards in the world”.  
“If the Swedish central bank is really concerned with making a difference on climate change they need to be investing more in ethical producers such as Alberta which have shown dramatic gains in reducing emissions,” she said. 
The City of Örebro was the first Swedish city to commit to pull its funds out of fossil fuels, following the example of cities like San Francisco, Seattle and the Dutch town of Boxte.

In his speech, Flodén said he had doubts about taking a more active approach to sustainability, and investing foreign exchange reserves directly “in particularly climate-friendly assets, such as green bonds.” 
Sweden's reserves, he explained, are currently invested solely in government bonds, something the bank was reluctant to change.  
“This is partly to hold down financial risks, and partly because monetary policy, apart from determining the general interest-rate level, should disturb pricing on the financial markets as little as possible.” 
This means that central banks can only have a limited role in pushing the world towards a greener economy, he said. 
“This is entirely natural,” he said. “The important decisions on how climate change should be counteracted in Sweden are political and should be taken by the government and the parliament.”