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BUSINESS

Huawei takes Sweden to court over 5G ban

Chinese tech giant Huawei has initiated arbitration proceedings against Sweden after the Nordic country banned it from rolling out 5G.

A technician stands at the entrance to a Huawei 5G data center at the Guangdong Second Provincial General Hospital in Guangzhou, in southern China's Guangdong province, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021. The hospital in southern China's Guangdong Province is using 5G and IoT technologies to collect, transmit and monitor more data in real time, allowing healthcare workers to provide better medical service for patients. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Sweden in 2020 banned network operators from using Huawei equipment in the buildup of 5G infrastructure. Photo: AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

“The Swedish authorities’ decision to discriminate against Huawei and exclude it from the 5G rollout has significantly harmed Huawei’s investment in Sweden, in breach of Sweden’s international obligations,” the Chinese company said in a statement to AFP.

The company had therefore “initiated arbitration proceedings” under the World Bank Group’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) “against the Kingdom of Sweden following a number of measures taken by the Swedish authorities targeting directly Huawei’s investments in Sweden and excluding Huawei from the rollout of 5G network products and services in the country,” Huawei added.

Huawei did not specify what damages it was seeking, but according to public broadcaster SVT, the initial sum sought was 5.2 billion Swedish kroner ($550 million), but it could end up being much higher.

Following the UK in mid-2020, Sweden became the second country in Europe and the first in the EU to explicitly ban network operators from using Huawei equipment in the buildup of the infrastructure needed to run its 5G network.

Sweden also ordered Huawei to remove already installed equipment by January 1st, 2025.

After an appeal from Huawei a Swedish court confirmed the decision by Sweden’s Post and Telecom Authority in June 2021.

The decision strained relations between Sweden and China, with Beijing at the time warning that PTS’s decision could have “consequences” for the Scandinavian country’s companies in China, prompting Swedish telecom giant and Huawei competitor Ericsson to fear retaliation.

Member comments

  1. Stand up for Sweden.
    Ban Huawei.
    Scummy and crooked. Can’t figure out why any Swede would work for Huawei.

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BUSINESS

Philip Morris offers $16 bn for Swedish smokeless tobacco firm

Marlboro-maker Philip Morris International said on Wednesday that it had offered $16 billion to acquire smokeless tobacco company Swedish Match as the US group aims to move away from its traditional cigarette business.

Philip Morris offers $16 bn for Swedish smokeless tobacco firm

The board of Swedish Match recommended that its shareholders accept the bid of 106 Swedish kronor per share, nearly 40 percent above its closing share price on Monday, the companies said in separate statements.

The deal would total 161.2 billion Swedish kronor (15 billion euros).

Stockholm-based Swedish Match derives more than 65 percent of its revenue from smoke-free products, including chewing tobacco and the Zyn brand of nicotine pouches.

Philip Morris announced in 2016 a long-term goal to stop selling cigarettes and replace them with alternatives that it says are less harmful.

The US company sells cigarette brands such as Marlboro and Chesterfield in 180 markets outside the United States and has invested billions of dollars since 2008 in vapor products, oral nicotine and other “reduced-risk” products.

Last year it clinched a controversial takeover of British breathing inhaler manufacturer Vectura, despite fierce opposition from health campaigners and medical groups.

The group plans to generate at least $1 billion in annual net revenues from nicotine-free products by 2025.

Philip Morris and Swedish Match had confirmed the takeover talks on Monday following a Wall Street Journal report.

“We are pleased to announce this exciting next step in Philip Morris International’s and Swedish Match’s trajectory toward a smoke-free future,” the US company’s chief executive, Jacek Olczak, said in a statement.

“Underpinned by compelling strategic and financial rationale, this combination would create a global smoke-free champion — strengthened by complementary geographic footprints, commercial capabilities and product portfolios — and open up significant platforms for growth in the US and internationally,” he said.

Swedish Match chairman Conny Karlsson told AFP that the deal was a “good offer” for shareholders.

“It’s great to have the chance to broaden the distribution of our products, which can compete with cigarettes,” Karlsson said.

Snus scandal

Swedish Match is also known for making cigars and “snus”, a form of snuff particular to Nordic countries.

The sale of snus, a moist powder tobacco originating from dry snuff, is illegal across the European Union, but Sweden has an exemption. It contains nicotine and comes in teabag-like pouches that are placed under the lip.

In 2012, Swedish Match said an associate to the EU’s then health commissioner had sought a 60-million-euro payment from the company to push for a proposed tobacco law that would lift the snus ban.

The firm filed a complaint with the European Anti-Fraud Office and the health commissioner, John Dalli, resigned from his post.

Dalli appeared in a Maltese court this year on charges of bribery and trading in influence over the lobbying scandal.

Swedish Match shares rose by almost nine percent to 103.50 kroner following the takeover bid.

Philip Morris, listed on the New York Stock Exchange, was up 0.6 percent to $99.47 in electronic trading before the stock market opened.

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