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HQ rescue plan triggers new share collapse

Financial services group HQ must immediately strengthen its finances and will temporarily sell its fund management company HQ Fonder to its principal owner Öresund for 850 million kronor ($105.07 million).

The rescue action triggered a new collapse in the company’s shares, with the Stockholm Stock Exchange moving HQ shares to its so-called observation list.

HQ will withdraw a proposed rights issue of 559 million kronor and has set an extraordinary general meeting for June 28th. Instead, HQ intends to conduct a rights issue of up to 1 billion kronor to allow for the repurchase of HQ funds and secure financial stability.

The proceeds from the sale will cover losses from HQ’s trading operations, which it is about to promptly liquidate. So far in the second quarter, total losses from trading operations have grown to 297 million kronor.

The costs of implementing the forced liquidation are estimated to have grown and occurred earlier compared with HQ’s assessment released on May 26th.

An additional 1 billion kronor has already been largely secured through subscription commitments and guarantees from Öresund and financiers Mats Qviberg and Sten Dybeck.

Shortly before 11am, HQ shares plummeted by 24 percent and the Stockholm Stock Exchange decided to move HQ shares to the so-called observation list.

HQ Chairman Qviberg refused to comment on whether he considered reaction justified.

“I do not want to assess it,” news agency TT reported him as saying. “It is clear that our information has resulted in a decline, that was to be expected. However, it is a sign of strength rather than weakness that we can do this.”

Per Håkansson, general counsel of the Financial Supervisory Authority (Finansinspektionen, FI), believes that the developments at HQ are “serious and sensational.”

“Everyone involved has a reason to reflect on how the situation has reached this point,” said Håkansson. “However, beyond that, I cannot discuss it any further,” referring to the confidentiality rules applying to FI’s work.

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Recipe: How to make a Sweden-inspired colourful couscous salad

Couscous, fruit and beetroot combine in this colourful salad from Swedish food writer John Duxbury.

Recipe: How to make a Sweden-inspired colourful couscous salad
Fruity couscous salad with beetroot. Photo: John Duxbury/Swedish Food

Swedes are great lovers of salads and make a considerable use of beetroot (beets) as they grow well in Sweden. In recent years they have also started to use couscous a lot, something that goes well with beetroot, and which now often features in Swedish salads.

Another feature about Swedish salads is that they often use fruit, sometimes just for added colour, but here the figs are a key ingredient.

Summary

Serves 8

Preparation: 10 Minutes

Cooking: 40 Minutes

Based on a recipe published by ICA in Sweden

Tips

•  Use pearl couscous if you can as it looks better and adds a bit of bite to the salad. Pearl couscous is sometimes referred to as jumbo couscous, Israeli couscous, mougrabieh, fregola or giant couscous, depending on where you live.

•  I have increased the amount of salad from 70 g to 150 g and the quantity of raisins from 30 g to 75 g, but you may prefer the original quantities.

Ingredients

600 g (1 1/4 lb) beetroot (beets)

200 g (1 1/4 cups) couscous

1 small red onion

3 fresh figs

75 g (1/2 cup) raisins

150 g (5 oz) mixed salad leaves

Dressing:

3 tbsp rapeseed oil

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, preferably white

1 tsp salt

freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method

1. Trim most of the stalk from the beetroot, scrub, put them in a pan, cover with water, add some salt and bring to boil. Simmer until tender, which can take anything from 10 to 50 minutes depending on their size. When cool, peel and cut into small wedge.

2. Meanwhile cook the couscous according to the instructions on the packet. Drain and loosen with a fork if it is too sticky.

3. Peel the onion and slice thinly.

4. Halve the figs and slice thinly.

5. Mix all the ingredients in a large dish, keeping back some couscous, fig slices and raisins.

6. Whisk the ingredients for the dressing together. Pour over the salad and toss.

7. Garnish with the remaining couscous, fig slices and raisins.

Recipe courtesy of John Duxbury, founder and editor of Swedish Food