The Finnish government has announced it is exploring the possibility of listing the wholly state-owned importer, exporter and producer of strong alcoholic beverages, Altia, on the Helsinki Stock Exchange.
The objective of the listing is to reduce state ownership and broaden the domestic ownership base of the company.
“The state must offer its companies natural development paths so that it can support their growth. The plans to reduce state ownership in Altia have been approved by the Finnish Parliament. It is important for the company to have a broad domestic ownership base,” Mika Lintilä (Centre), the minister responsible for ownership steering, says in a press release issued on Tuesday, 17 October.
The government assures that it would retain at least a 33 per cent stake in the company. Altia, it adds, also has no intention to divest its production facility in Koskenkorva, Southern Ostrobothnia.
The assurances did little to alleviate the concerns of several Members of the Parliament on Tuesday.
The Left Parliamentary Group, for example, issued a public statement questioning the rationale of selling an asset that is generating income for the government.
Jari Myllykoski (Left Alliance) argued that while the objective of broadening the domestic ownership base of the company is commendable, the decision to realise state-owned assets by means of listing is “yet another example of the government’s privatisation ideology”.
“This was to be expected after the government created a bundle of special-purpose companies, also known as the sales department for state-owned assets,” he commented.
Both the Centre and Left Alliance also called attention to the importance of Altia to the agricultural and industrial make-up of Finland. “Altia is a notable buyer of home-grown barley. Can we be fully certain that it’d continue to buy from domestic contract farmers instead of abroad also as a listed company?” asked Myllykoski.
The government’s ownership steering department is to present its report on the possible listing by mid-2018.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Roni Rekomaa – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi