A wildfire warning in Leivonmäki national park. LEHTIKUVA

Finland in the world press

Here is a selection of what the international press has published about Finland in the last week:

Sato cut to junk rating as Swedish real estate woes hit Finland

Sato Oyj, a Finnish real estate company, being downgraded to junk status by Moody's Investors Service was covered in an article by Bloomberg on June 23.

The article explores the reason behind the downgrading of Sato Oyj, whose main owner is Swedish landlord Fastighets AB Balder. It suggests that the downgrade is a result of Sweden's ongoing real estate crisis, which is impacting the entire Nordic region.

Sato Oyj, which owns 25,000 apartments in Finland, is now among a growing number of companies referred to as "fallen angels." These companies have seen their credit ratings drop from investment grade to high-yield or junk status. The article highlights that the real estate market in Sweden has been particularly affected, and the downgrades are further exacerbating the financing difficulties faced by companies in the sector, raising concerns for Europe's real estate industry as a whole.

Moody’s downgraded Sato’s rating from Baa3, the lowest investment grade, to Ba1. The downgrade was attributed to several factors, including the expected deterioration in Sato’s interest coverage ratio, financing challenges, and the weakening position of Balder, its majority owner with a 56.3% stake.

“We think that the downgrade exhibits Moody’s more aggressive approach towards unsolicited ratings as Sato’s key credit metrics were not yet in breach with the agency’s requirements,” Olli Eloranta, a credit analyst at Danske Bank said.

Original story was published by Bloomberg on 23.06.2023 and can be found here.

Phone-free zone: Finland introduces world’s first digital detox tourist island

Ulko-Tammio, a small island in Finland’s Eastern Gulf of Finland, set to become the world’s first phone-free tourist zone, was covered by Euronews on June 22. The article gives details of the initiative by the island, which has declared itself a "phone-free" area for the summer in an effort to encourage a digital detox and allow visitors to truly appreciate their surroundings.

Tourists will be requested to keep their smart devices in their pockets and disconnect from social media, although there will still be a functioning mobile network available. Ulko-Tammio, part of the Eastern Gulf national park, offers opportunities for overnight stays in tents or cabins.

The new rules – which will be voluntary – will give visitors a chance to “focus on nature”, according to Joel Heino, from Parks and Wildlife Finland. “This is a great initiative that could be implemented in other nature and recreational destinations, too.” Heino told Euronews.

The article also elaborates on the activities in the island, including hiking trails around the rocky shoreline and climbing bird-watching towers to check out the island’s rare flora and fauna.

Original story was published by Euronews on 22.06.2023 and can be found here.

Drought and rising heat bring unusual wildfire warnings in Northern Europe

This article about forest fire warnings been issued across Northern Europe, including Nordic and Baltic countries, due to dry conditions and rising temperatures was published in Associated Press on June 16. The article raises concerns over the rare wildfire warnings in these regions, which typically experience cooler and wetter summers.

The article states that small fires are already burning in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Scotland, while experts raises alarms over the possibility of more occurrences  unless there’s significant rainfall in coming weeks.

The lack of historical knowledge and experience in dealing with drought situations makes these countries particularly vulnerable. The Finnish Meteorological Institute has warned of a high risk of forest fires in Finland, while similar warnings have been issued in Norway, Denmark and the Baltic countries.

The article also highlights that temperatures are rising in Finland and no substantial rain was expected in Finland until around the June 24 observance of midsummer. “The heat wave can stay on the surface for next week as well and spread all the way to Lapland,” Tuomo Bergman, the Finnish institute’s meteorologist told Associated Press.

The article also states that the transition from La Niña to El Niño climatic conditions in the Pacific may be a contributing factor to the drought.

Original story was published by Associated Press on 16.06.2023 and can be found here.

Back Russia’s war in Ukraine and lose aid, Finland tells African states

This article about Finland's right-wing government, led by newly sworn-in Prime Minister Petteri Orpo, planning to cut overseas aid to countries that support Russia's attack on Ukraine, was published in The Times on June 24. The article explains how the new government, influenced by the right-wing populist Finns party, aims to link foreign aid to Russia's invasion of Ukraine and make it conditional on support for the international rules-based order.

The move sets a precedent in using aid policy to address a specific conflict. Finland intends to increase aid to Ukraine and withhold development assistance from governments or entities supporting Russia’s war of aggression. The article also suggests that the approach may be coordinated with other European Union countries.

Finland’s primary duty is to support Ukraine and compared to the immeasurable suffering of Ukrainians, it is morally wrong for Finland to continue granting development aid to countries that support Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine,” Ville Tavio, the Finns party’s new trade and international development minister, told The Times.

Analysts argue that Western countries should be more assertive in using aid or climate policy as tools to persuade developing nations to align with their interests and values. “Removing aid gives the possibility for using it as leverage. Trade and aid with swing states will be key areas in the battle for influence, and while the question with trade is more complex, with development aid it is relatively simple — we shouldn’t fund the development of illiberal ordering,” Benjamin Tallis, a senior research fellow at the German Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin told The Times.

Original story was published by The Times on 24.06.2023 and can be found here.

Jervois obtains €12m grant to expand cobalt refinery in Finland

Jervois Finland, a subsidiary of Australian cobalt miner Jervois Global, being granted €12 million by Business Finland for the potential expansion of its cobalt refining facility in Finland was covered in an article published in Mining Technology. The article provides the details of the grant which will allow Jervois to evaluate restarting work on a bankable feasibility study for the refinery's expansion at the Kokkola Industrial Park.

Jervois had previously paused the expansion plans in favor of a new cobalt refinery at its Idaho operations in the U.S., which will be funded by the U.S. Department of Defense.

The grant from Business Finland will reimburse part of the feasibility study costs and future construction expenses at the Finnish refinery. The grant is contingent upon meeting various conditions, including board approval, securing financing, and obtaining environmental permits.

Original story was published by Mining Technology on 23.06.2023 and can be found here.