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TAKEOVER

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." 

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CAR

This is the Swedes’ favourite car model (hint: it’s not a Volvo)

Sales of new cars in Sweden rose 7.9 percent last year, according to fresh figures. And for the first time in more than five decades, the car topping the list of most-sold models is not a Volvo.

This is the Swedes' favourite car model (hint: it's not a Volvo)
A Volkswagen Golf Alltrack. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

A total of 372,296 new cars were registered in 2016, said Swedish automakers' association Bil Sweden. Truck sales rose by a whopping 15.3 percent, with 58,174 new trucks sold last year.

Perhaps surprisingly, the most popular model was not the iconic Swedish car Volvo, but rather a German Volkswagen. Its Golf model was Sweden's most sold car, racking up 22,084 sales.

It is the first time in 54 years a brand other than Volvo tops the list in Volvo's birth country. In 1962 Volkswagen's famous 'Beetle' was the most sold car in Sweden.

The last of the Volvo V70, Sweden's best-selling car for two decades prior to last year, rolled off the conveyor belt earlier this year and it seems the newer V90 has not yet found its place in Swedish hearts.

READ ALSO: Volvo bids farewell to Sweden's favourite car

However, it was not far behind. Volvo sold 21,321 of its V70/XC70/S90/V90, which are counted as one model in Bil Sweden's statistics, in 2016, second behind Volkswagen Golf. The company, which is owned by Chinese Geely, also held on to the largest market share, with four of its models in the top-ten.

The sale of so called 'super green cars' – vehicles with less than 50g/km carbon dioxide emissions – rose by 51 percent last year compared to 2015.

“Our forecast is that around 18,000 new super green cars will be registered in 2017, which represents a share of five percent of the total market,” said Bil Sweden's CEO Bertil Moldén.

In France meanwhile, sales of new cars breached the symbolic two-million threshold for the first time since 2011, according to the French automakers' association CCFA.

The most popular car models in 2016 (Bil Sweden)

1. VW Golf
2. Volvo V70II, S/V90N
3. Volvo S/V60
4. Volvo XC60
5. VW Passat
6. Volvo V40N
7. Toyota Auris
8. VW Polo
9. Kia Cee'd
10. Skoda Octavia