Agency to probe internet outage at Swedish bank

After Swedish bank Skandiabanken suffered a massive outage of its internet banking services on Tuesday, the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority (Finansinspektionen - FI) has announced plans to investigate the matter.

“It is certainly not good that such a serious breakdown can occur, leaving customers without the service for such a long period of time,” said senior risk expert Agnieszka Arshamian at to Swedish business daily Dagens Industri (DI) on Wednesday.

Swedish bank Skandiabanken’s internet service was down for most of Tuesday, leaving thousands of customers unable to pay bills, move funds or manage their stock portfolios.

Webpages, internet banking, as well as telephone and customer services were all unavailable for several hours and internal e-mail and intranet were down as well.

Not until midnight on Tuesday were all systems up and running again.

“This is the most serious breakdown in the history of Skandia, we are deeply sorry for any problems we may have caused our customers,” said Pelle Wahlström, chief operating officer, in a statement on Wednesday.

Skandiabanken reported the incident to FI who will now investigate if the bank had the necessary precautionary arrangements to minimise the risk to customers.

According to Arshamian this kind of breakdown does not happen often in Sweden.

She said that FI would follow up on the incident carefully. If there is reason to believe that the incident wasn’t handled appropriately the bank may face stern criticism.

“There must be efficient risk management so that problems are prevented, as well as an effective crisis management if they do occur. When you are the most dependent on IT-systems your vulnerability is increased,” she said to DI.

Skandiabanken has more than 350,000 customers in Sweden and an estimated 1.7 million customers worldwide.

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Scania review board dissects Volkswagen bid

The independent committee looking at Volkswagen's take-over bid of Swedish truck giant Scania began its work on Tuesday, stating promises that headquarters would remain in Sweden were paramount.

Scania review board dissects Volkswagen bid
IF Metall Union representative Johan Järvklo sits on the independent review board. File: TT

Åsa Thunman was appointed chairwoman of the committee, which has invited financial consultants from Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley as well as legal advisors from Swedish law firm Mannheimer Swartling to assist them in their appraisal.

Thunman said in a statement that the committee would look at whether the $9.2 billion bid was in the best interest of Scania shareholders.

The effect on Swedish industry would also be considered, underlined committee board member Peter Wallenberg Jr.

"It has noted that Volkswagen does not foresee any significant changes with regards to Scania and that Scania’s headquarters and its development centres will remain where they are today," Wallenberg Jr. said. "These matters are of course of importance to the company and for Sweden.”

At the plant in Södertälje, employees have been busy discussing the bid. Assembly line worker Ahmed told The Local that his colleagues did not fear that production would be relocated to Germany.

"They couldn't possibly move all these machines and equipment," Ahmed, which is not his real name, told The Local on Tuesday. "But everyone on the floor has been discussing the offer."

Volkswagen tabled their $9.2 billion bid to swallow up Scania last Friday. It already owns 89 percent of Scania's voting rights and 62.6 percent of the company, with VW eager to secure the nearly 40 percent they do not own. The takeover has encountered resistance from two of Scania's minority owners, however. Both insurance outfit Skandia and pension fund AP4 have expressed reservations about selling up to Volkswagen.

“Scania’s prerequisites to maintain its leading position are better as a listed company than as a subsidiary in a larger group. Skandia doesn't intend to accept the offer," Caroline af Ugglas, head of equities at Skandia, told Bloomberg over the weekend.

Scania, which was founded in 1891 and has operations in more than 100 countries, boasts 38,600 employees. Around 16,000 work with sales and servicescross the company's subsidiaries, and over 12,000 work in production units. The company has headquarters in the Swedish town of Södertälje, where almost 6,000 employees work. The headquarters also hosts the research and development operations, with 3,300 employees.

"Changing owners won't make any difference to us in the near future," assembly line worker Ahmed said. "But we do wonder if the rules will change later on."