Investor sees profits bounce back

Despite strong second-quarter profits at Investor, the CEO of the Swedish holding company said Tuesday he doesn’t expect the global economy to rebound quickly.

Investor, the industrial holding firm controlled by the influential Wallenberg family, announced net profits of 16.85 billion kronor ($2.14 billion) for April 1 to June 30 after a 3.5 billion kronor net loss a year earlier.

The company, which holds stakes more than 130 firms worldwide, is widely considered as a good bellwether for the Swedish business climate.

Chief executive Börje Ekholm said that while the global economy was “on the way” to recovery, hopes of a swift end to the recent turmoil were premature.

“I am concerned that the recovery process may not be as robust as we hope,” he said in a statement.

Ekholm pointed to rising unemployment and high levels of personal debt among US consumers — whose spending, he said, accounts for 20 percent of global GDP.

“I don’t think we should count on a sustained rebound in consumer spending until the consumers’ balance sheets have been shored up. I am concerned that some ‘green shoots’ may turn into yellow weeds along a slow road to recovery,” he added.

The Investor chief executive said the Asian economies, led by China, would emerge first and in better shape than Europe and the US from the current downturn.

“Continued investments in developing a strong presence for our companies in these markets will be strategically important and rewarding,” Ekholm said.

In its interim report for the period January to June, Investor said its net asset value totalled 126.6 billion kronor, compared to 115.2 billion at the end of 2008 or 138.7 billion kronor for the first six months of 2008.

“We have enjoyed a couple of strong months in the stock markets,” explained Ekholm said. “We have invested 5.3 billion kronor the last six months at long-term attractive valuations.”

Investor said net profits in the first six months totalled 13.83 billion kronor against a 12.45 billion kronor net loss the same period a year earlier.

Among the company’s main holdings are Swiss-Swedish engineering group ABB, Swedish bank SEB, white goods maker Electrolux and the world leader in telecoms networks, Ericsson.

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Sweden financier Peter Wallenberg dies in sleep

UPDATED: One of Sweden's most powerful financiers, Peter Wallenberg, has died at the age of 88, with the country's King Carl XVI Gustaf saying he had lost "a close and loyal friend".

Sweden financier Peter Wallenberg dies in sleep
Peter Wallenberg in 2014. Photo: TT
Peter Wallenberg, who was born in 1926, came from one of Sweden's most prominent families, with other relatives active in banking, politics, diplomacy and business.
His most famous relative was Raoul Wallenberg, a diplomat who saved tens of thousands of Jews from the Holocaust during World War Two and who went missing seventy years ago this weekend.
Peter Wallenberg had a long career in finance after graduating from law school. He worked in the UK, the US and Africa, before settling in Sweden and working on the board of several leading industrial companies including Electrolux and Ericsson. He also helped establish Anglo-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca in 1999.
Until earlier this month he had remained active in the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, a Sweden's largest private financial research organisation.
During the past five years, the foundation has granted a total of five billion kronor for various projects, mainly at Swedish universities.
"With deep regret, the Management Board of the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation announce that its honorary president Peter Wallenberg died in his sleep at his home on Monday at the age of 88," said a statement from the foundation.

"Peter Wallenberg has been active on the board since 1971 and has held the presidency from 1982 until recently," it added.

Wallenberg became heavily involved in the foundation after his older brother Marc Wallenberg killed himself in 1971.
“Marc and I were very close,” he told Sweden's Sydsvenska Dagbladet newspaper back in 2006.
“I didn’t see what was coming, despite sitting talking to him two hours before he took his life. It was a big misfortune and I felt a terrible emptiness.”
Reacting to the news of Peter Wallenberg's death, Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf said in a written statement: "Peter Wallenberg has meant a lot to Swedish industry. He was also deeply involved in the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, which contributed to scientific development in Sweden. For the royal family, Peter was a close and loyal friend."
Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said that he had "great respect" for the financier, who he said had played a "big role in Swedish business for decades."
Peter Wallenberg was married three times and leaves behind two sons.