Nordström proposed as new Vattenfall boss

Former post office head Lars G Nordström has been proposed as the new Vattenfall head, when the company elects its third chairman in as many years.

Nordström proposed as new Vattenfall boss

“I look forward to joining the company’s Board, management and employees in contributing to ensure that Vattenfall yields good returns and remains a leader in moving developments towards environmentally sustainable energy generation”, Nordström said in a statement on Friday.

According to Vattenfall, Lars G Nordström has extensive experience of executive positions in several sectors with a focus on the financial industry.

He was President and CEO of the Nordea bank from 2002 to 2007. He has been a director of Nordea since 2003.

From 2008 to 2011 Lars G Nordström was CEO and President of Posten Norden AB. He was also a director of TeliaSonera AB between 2004 and 2010.

“On the basis of my many years of experience in directing large companies I look forward to the opportunity of running Vattenfall together with CEO Oystein Loseth.” Nordström said.

The government has nominated Björn Savén as Vice-Chairman of the Board. He has been acting Chairman of the Board of Vattenfall since March.

However, Nordström’s two predecessors at Vattenfall were fired.

Lars Westerberg, the latest to go, left after it became known that he had approved a massive severance package to CEO Lars G Josefsson.

In order not to suffer the same fate, Nordström will have to conform to regulations.

“I will of course follow the guidelines, regulations and directives we have,“ he said to daily Dagens Nyheter (DN).

According to news agency TT, minister for financial markets, Peter Norman, says that the choice fell on Nordström due to his “eminent experience” and personal competencies.

Norman and the government are hoping that Nordström will prove a driving force towards a more sustainable energy development.

“And that will be no easy task for the board,” Norman told DN.

Nordström’s election will be carried out at an extraordinary meeting planned for June 14th.

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Swedish energy firm racks up giant losses

UPDATED: Swedish energy giant Vattenfall recorded losses amounting to nearly 29 billion kronor ($3.4 billion) on Tuesday as the company continued its battle against increasingly tough market conditions.

Swedish energy firm racks up giant losses
Vattenfall chief executive Magnus Hall on Tuesday. Photo: Fredrik Persson/TT

Hit by asset write-down charges worth 36 billion kronor, Sweden's Vattenfall reported a net loss of 28.812 billion kronor in the second quarter of the year, a huge drop from 2.3 billion kronor in the same period in 2014.

The state-owned energy firm, a major provider of electricity in northern Europe, has been struggling to improve profits for several years, suffering from weak demand and plunging electricity prices.

It attributed 17 billion kronor of the total asset write-downs to the same fall in profits which led to a shock announcement earlier this year that it planned to close Ringhals 1 and 2 in south-western Sweden.

It said at the time that the two reactors were too costly to keep in production until 2025 as previously planned.

“This is of course very negative but unfortunately reflects the reality we're living in,” said its chief executive Magnus Hall in a statement on Tuesday morning.

It also wrote down an additional 15 billion kronor on its lignite, or brown coal, assets in Germany.

Earlier this year Vattenfall announced that 1,000 workers were being let go as part of a series of bids to curb losses, including speeding up the sale of the German plants.

It reported a total turnover of 36.1 billion kronor in the second quarter of 2015 on Tuesday, down from 36.6 billion in the same period last year.

Hall said that the work to tighten the belt was continuing “to identify further reductions in costs”.

Since the Vattenfall Group bought energy giant Nuon in 2009, a deal which has been hotly debated in Sweden, the firm's assets have been written down by over 52 billion kronor. 

Many energy providers in Europe have made huge asset write-downs in the last two years because of weak demand for electricity against a background of sluggish economic activity.

They have also been caught out by the US shale energy boom, which has pushed down the price of coal for power generation, undermining the profitability of new gas-powered plants and some investment programmes.

Vattenfall employs more than 30,000 and has operations in Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Britain.