Stockholm (NordSIP) – According to the 2019 IRRI survey, Global and Nordic asset managers and independent research providers are most keen to have direct contact with Swedbank, Fortum and A.P. Møller-Maersk.
2019 has been a very bad year for Swedbank. The company has been heavily embroiled in a scandal that saw a series of Nordic banks involved in money laundering from old Soviet Union countries through their branches in the Baltic countries. The concern has been reflected in share prices, which have tanked from SEK 198.05 per share on January 2nd to SEK135.9 by the end of May. Birgitte Bonnesen was fired from her role as CEO in March 2019, followed shortly thereafter by Lars Idermark, Chairman of the Board. Anders Karlsson, acting President and CEO, and Göran Persson, the new Chairman and a retired Prime Minister of Sweden are hoping to convince investors that the bank has turned a page and is implementing the necessary processes to avoid repeating the same mistakes, but the task is arduous. Stock prices have continued to fall since the IRRI survey, standing at SEK 129.1 at the time of writing.
Fortum, is a Finnish energy company operating across the Nordic region, the Baltic countries, Poland, and Russia. In 2018 it employed 1,075 people and had sales were worth € 5,242 million, up by 16% from 2017 while EBITDA had increased by 19% to 1,523 million. Although the company tripled its CO2-free power generation between 1990 and 2004, subsequent investments have mainly focused on other power generating processes, which it describes as “mainly CO2 low”. For the Finnish energy company, 2018 was dominated by its acquisition of Uniper, the fossil fuel arm of German energy company E.ON, which was concluded in July. Despite Fortum’s plan to double the capacity of its solar and wind portfolio, the €8 billion investment in a fossil fuel company that is the fifth-highest GHG emitting energy producer in Europe, by Fortum’s own admission, is bound to leave investors confused. At a time of mounting concerns about the potential that fossil fuel investments might leave investors stranded with unprofitable assets, and in light of its endorsement of SDG13 – Climate action, this investment from Fortum is perplexing.
A.P. Møller-Maersk is the largest container ship and supply vessel operator in the world. The company faces two different issues. On the one hand, its activity puts it at the nexus of ESG considerations. Concerns about the environmental impact of the worlds largest shipping fleet, working conditions on board and corruption scandals are a recurrent risk of the industry. Beyond these operational risks, 2018/19 has broad its own new set of complex macroeconomic and geopolitical concerns. On the one hand, the rise in oil prices since 017 has increased its costs. “Although we had a challenging start to 2018, looking at our financial performance, we increased earnings despite significantly higher bunker fuel prices and lower than expected container volume growth in the second half of 2018,” Soren Skou, CEO of Maersk, said in a statement in February. The second problem mentioned by the CEO alludes to the fact that the company is an important clog in the complex system of worldwide trade that spans the global economy. At a time of increased international tensions and trade wars, with rising tariffs and attacks in the Persian Gulf, Maersk’s business is at the crossroads of the future of the global economy. Since the end of 2017, , has fallen from DKK 9,450 to a range between DKK 6,929 and DKK 8,672, where it remains to this day.
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