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Borg calls for renewed privatization drive

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Borg calls for renewed privatization drive
11:10 CEST+02:00
Minister for Finance Anders Borg has indicated that the government intends to raise 100 billion kronor ($14 billion) by selling off the state's shareholdings in a number of companies if voted back into power in September.

A first step in the privatization process could entail reducing the state's holdings in telecoms giant TeliaSonera and Nordea bank.

“We're expecting sales revenue of 25 billion kronor each year during the next term of government. It's an important part of our plan to pay off the national debt,” Borg told business daily Dagens Industri.

Since the last election, the government has put TeliaSonera, Nordea, SAS and mortgage lender SBAB in the shop window, but Borg could not say for sure which companies would come under the hammer in the next four years.

Centre Party leader Maud Olofsson has previously expressed a willingness to sell off part of Vattenfall's overseas assets and to bring some private partners into the energy firm's ownership structure.

Social Democrat party secretary Ibrahim Baylan has responded to the proposed privatisation drive by demanding that the government outline exactly which state companies it intends selling. He also rejected as “terrible financial management” a plan to sell off holdings in companies providing substantial revenue to the state coffers in order to “amortize a debt at a time when interests rates are at a record low”.

“The right-wing parties are presenting so many solutions at the moment. The only thing they same to agree on is the need to sell,” Baylan told news ageny TT.

Minister for Financial Markets Mats Odell was not sure whether the government would present a list of companies for sale as it did in the lead-up to the last election.

“I can't say exactly the form it will take but I can promise that we're not going to sell off any state companies at knockdown prices. We're only going to sell when we consider it really good business for the country,” he told Dagens Industri.

A certain level of privatization could remain on the cards even if there is a change of government. On Thursday, Social Democrat economic policy spokesman Thomas Östros welcomed the Centre Party proposal to sell off some of Vattenfall's foreign assets. Ibrahim Baylan meanwhile has indicated that the largest opposition party could envisage selling Sweden's shareholding in troubled airline SAS.

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