Nordic Business #03 November 2021

Page 1

Price DKK 129,- / SEK 177,- / NOK 165,-

November 2021




nordic business


nordic business // 6

WE ARE BACK and Nordic Business can now once again bring you some of the most interesting business stories about sustainability, tech, investment and management - across the Nordic borders.

In this edition, we look more closely at how far we have progressed in the Nordic region with the development of various types of technologies to develop sustainable and renewable energy for the green transition. Green energy and green electricity also come with particular challenges in how they are distributed and stored, which the Swedish battery company Northvolt has managed to be able to anticipate the demand for, with their green rechargeable batteries. In record time, it has become the largest producer of green batteries in Europe. Another industry that has also seen growing demand is the real estate industry. Over the past year, the property market across all of the Nordic region has received a great deal of international attention, with large transactions, investments and acquisitions happening at staggering values. We dive into how this market has developed and look at the differences from country to country. We then pay tribute to 10 women in the Nordic real estate industry who have achieved great successes in their careers and are also a true inspiration for future female talents in the industry.

Executive Editor & Publisher

Graphic production

Henning Andersen

Fecund ApS

Editor & CCO


Julie Brix

Partnermedier ApS

Inspiration targeted at younger women is also important for the future diversity of companies pa r t ic u la rly i n t he STEM field (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathmatics). According to Boston Consulting Group, there is a need for more efforts in this area, and there is often a clear connection between a healthy bottom line and female leaders. This is something that Europe’s largest womenin-tech community, Tech Nordic Advocates, works hard to promote with their networking opportunities, mentor programs, startup/investor matching, and their own academy in the Nordic countries. We hope you will enjoy reading this issue of Nordic Business. Julie Brix Editor & COO

International Business Development Manager

Cover Photo

Mark Dixon

Linus Mimietz, Unsplash



Greg Morton / Marie-Louise Arnfast Henrik Malmgreen / Bibi Christensen Peter Klar / Flemming Østergaard Sten Thorup Kristensen

Printconnect ApS


Heidi Carlsen

This product is from sustainably managed forests and controlled sources

Next issue published 23rd February 2022

Contact Nordic Business is published by

Bibi Christensen / Rikke Hackner Art Director

19-31-02 PEFC Ce rtifie d

At Nordic Business, we want to take a sustainable approach to producing a print magazine. Our first step is printing on PEFCcertified paper, and the topic is also an increasing focus editorially.

Partnermedier St. Kongensgade 59 A, 4. sal 1264 Kbh. K

All rigths reserved. Material contained in this publication can not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without prior permission of Nordic Business.

HIGH QUALITY LEGAL SERVICES We don’t miss any details, not even the smallest ones.

Magnusson is a one-stop-shop law firm focused on delivering top quality legal services for the Nordics and the Baltics.

nordic business // 8

Global property investors conquering Denmark’s virgin land


50 34 Female tech leaders are bottom-line winners

Focus on diversity – including gender diversity– is good for the bottom line

Stricter rules set to slow down certain foreign investments in Europe and the Nordic countries Tougher legislation is being introduced to prevent foreign direct investment

10 26

Mitigating the climate crisis comes with many ingredients – do we have a Nordic recipe?

nordic business // 9


Startups in the Nordic region have been quick to see the potential in electric vehicles

Nordic business travel is (coming) back


3 Nordic Luxury Hotels

– that make you feel better than being at home!


Surging capital Inflows are transforming the Nordic property market


nordic business // 10

Wind and solar power can replace coal and oil as sources of electricity and are already well on the way towards doing so in the Nordic countries, not least helped by wind power becoming significantly cheaper over the past few years.

nordic business // 11

THE COCKTAIL FOR MITIGATING THE CLIMATE CRISIS COMES WITH MANY INGREDIENTS – DO WE HAVE A NORDIC RECIPE? In August 2021 the latest report from IPCC, the UN climate panel, concluded that the world will need to struggle very hard to reach the target of limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius as agreed by a string of countries in the Paris Agreement.

By Marie-Louise Arnfast

Photo: Energy Cluster Denmark

Radical measures are needed here and now to stop emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases. Despite the growing phase-in of sustainable energy sources such as solar and wind power, as well as innovative leaps in various technologies that can help us transition from black to green in both energy, transportation, manufacturing and consumption, the development and implementation of the necessary changes are still moving far too slowly compared to the factors that are pulling us in the opposite direction: our growing consumption of and continued emphasis on resources that emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The same applies to the Nordic countries where emissions of greenhouse gases are still too high, with an overall level that hovers around the European average for carbon-dioxide emissions per capita. On the other hand, the Nordics are way

nordic business // 12

ahead on phasing in sustainable energy sources and developing green technologies. And long term that may boost the Nordic area not just as a showcase for the green transition but also a major exporter of green energy and green technologies. That will, however, require major investment and the political will to establish the framework conditions needed to push that development. Electrification is essential The more we electrify, the better – at least where the climate is concerned. Electricity is the type of energy that is the easiest to switch from black to green. Wind and solar power can replace coal and oil as sources of electricity and are already well on the way towards doing so in the Nordic countries, not least helped by solar and wind power becoming significantly cheaper over the past few years. Meanwhile, hydro power has already been the main source of green electricity in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland for many years now. But in spite of various efforts to boost energy efficiency, the transition to electrical power will invariably lead to a growing need for production and distribution of electricity. Hydro power is not expected to see any significant expansion

The Nordics are way ahead on phasing in sustainable energy sources and developing green technologies. And long term that may boost the Nordic area not just as a showcase for the green transition but also a major exporter of green energy and green technologies.

from what it currently produces. The use of nuclear power is growing in Finland but being scaled back in Sweden, and it is not politically relevant in the other Nordic countries. Solar energy can be expanded – with particular interest in floating solar panel farms – but this far North we are unlikely to see solar energy as the major source of green electricity. What we do have is plenty of wind and sea. The state-owned Danish company Energinet sees a potential in Danish waters for producing three times as much electricity as what will be needed in a fully electrified Denmark. Hence there is particular interest in producing green electricity at sea. Denmark is speeding ahead with a total of 15 offshore wind farms now in operation. Norway is focusing on floating offshore wind farms that can be placed where the sea depth makes it difficult to fix wind turbines to the seabed. And in Denmark two artificial energy islands are also due to be built in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea to produce green energy from offshore wind. In Sweden, a country with large remote areas, there is not just interest in offshore wind farms but also major potential in land-based wind farms – a concept that has been met with growing popular resistance in both Norway and Denmark where a number of projects have been cancelled. But while it is highly likely that within the next few years we will be able to produce much of the quantity of green electricity that will be needed to supply a heavily electrified society – and perhaps even export a large amount of green electricity to our neighbouring countries – at least three major challenges still remain.

Danish hydrogen projects: Expected location and elektrolysis capacity in 2030.

Sweet and sour: the challenges of electrification One such challenge lies in the distribution of electricity. Electrifying our power supply will require an expansion of

Photo: Dan Meyers

nordic business // 13

nordic business // 14

the transmission and distribution networks in order to bring green electricity to all corners of society and in sufficient quantities to power everything from heat pumps for industrial use, district heating and homes, to electric vehicles at both our workplaces and on our residential streets. The transmission network between the Nordic countries is well developed, but the scale of electrification that is needed for the green transition will require serious expansion of this network. That will require major investment that may also be met with popular resistance from those who see power lines as a blight on the landscape. The second major challenge is the storage of electricity. With solar and wind power seen as important sources of electrical power, periods with limited access to these will require supplies from sources that store “excess” power while the sun is out and the wind blows. Technologically, batteries are an easy solution – but battery technology is currently nowhere near to shifting the amounts of energy that are going to be needed. Energy storage in stones, water or salt would be other technological options for keeping us warm if the electrical power supply fails. Another promising technology is hydrogen and fuel cells where green electricity is fed into water in an electrolysis unit to produce hydrogen that can later be used to generate electricity when fed through a fuel cell. This process currently involves a significant power loss (which can be reduced by using the heat created in the electrolysis process for district heating). But it is an option for storing and recreating electricity that may become relevant when a major part of our electricity production comes from sustainable sources. The new ingredient: Power-to-X The third challenge is that not all energy-dependent processes can be plugged into a power socket. Direct electrification

has its limits – not least when it comes to moving heavy objects across long distances – including airplanes and ships. Batteries are simply too heavy. That is why, across the Nordic countries, there is now a growing emphasis on socalled indirect electrification – or power-to-x – where power from sustainable sources such as wind and solar power is converted to hydrogen or hydrogen-based products such as liquid methanol and ammonia that can be used to fuel up cars, ships, trains and planes. Power-to-x is interesting from several perspectives. First, together with e.g. biodiesel, it is a concept that can help switch long-distance heavy transportation to green. But hydrogen and hydrogen-based products like methanol and ammonia are also used in the industrial and agricultural sectors, where they are currently made from fossile sources. Second, the production of hydrogen can help make investment in the expansion of solar and wind energy more profitable, since electricity from these sources can be used to produce hydrogen during periods when the production capacity for electricity exceeds demand.

Across the Nordic countries, there is now a growing emphasis on so-called indirect electrification – or power-to-x – where power from sustainable sources such as wind and solar power is converted to hydrogen or hydrogen-based products.

Finally, in the Nordic countries there could be a business potential for using the favourable wind conditions to make hydrogen at dedicated offshore hydrogen wind farms, then feed it through the existing gas pipelines and send it south to be used in countries like Germany that have substantial industrial consumption of hydrogen. There are already plans to establish a European hydrogen pipeline system stretching from Norway to Spain. In other words, the Nordic region has a geography, longstanding energy know how and a technological head start in some areas that would make it possible to mix up a cocktail of effective solutions for reducing carbon dioxide emissions – not just in the Nordics but other countries too through exports. Photo: Unsplash

nordic business // 15


How to catch the genie in the bottle? By Marie-Louise Arnfast

No matter how much energy we save or switch to sustainable sources, there will still be processes that emit carbon dioxide, and we will need to capture these emissions and either store them (CCS: Carbon Capture Storage) or use them for sensible purposes (CCUS: Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage).

In 1996, Norway became one of the first countries in the world to start working on carbon capture and storage at the Sleipner gas field. A year ago, the Norwegian government also launched the Longship project to facilitate carbon capture and storage from places such as the Norcem cement factory at Brevik and the Fortum Oslo Varme plant in the Norwegian capital. An offshoot of this initiative is the Northern Lights project, for which Equinor, Shell and Total have teamed up to work on transporting captured carbon dioxide in a liquid form to a terminal in Western Norway and pumping it from there to the North Sea to be stored some 2.6 kilometres below the seabed. One of the “suppliers” of CO 2 will be the Preem refinery at Lysekil in Sweden, where a test facility has been built to capture carbon dioxide from flue gases at the refinery. The CO2 will then be transported to Norway and deposited underground as part of the Northern Lights project. CO2 can also be captured directly from the atmosphere, which is now happening in Iceland where the world’s first commercial facility for this type of carbon capture – the Orca plant – has just started sucking carbon dioxide out of the air. The CO 2 is then processed and stored underground. However, this type of process is very energy-intensive in itself and therefore not as effective in reducing CO2 emissions compared to capturing carbon dioxide directly at the source of production. On the other hand, this technology is still useful for capturing CO2 that has already been emitted into the atmosphere.

Photo: Preem

One of the biggest carbon-emitting industries that will be difficult to get to net zero emissions in the forseeable future is the cement sector. Some 4 percent of the total carbon emissions from Denmark’s territory come from the cement producer Aalborg Portland which is now working with various partners on the GreenSand 2 and GreenCem projects, aiming to find ways of capturing CO2 from chimneys, transporting it to the North Sea for underground storage or reusing the captured carbon dioxide for purposes such as producing liquid methanol through synthesis with hydrogen from sustainable sources.

With carbon capture from so-called sustainable biogenic processes, it is possible to not just capture the carbon dioxide but also to use it for purposes such as producing green powerto-x fuels like green methanol. This effectively turns CO2 into an important source of green fuels – and there are already warnings that this type of CO 2 may end up being in short supply if we decide to bet heavily on power-to-x fuels. Biogenic carbon capture can be done at biomass-based power plants, biogas upgrading facilities and waste incinerators, which is already happening. Most recently, a pilot project for carbon capture was started at the Amager Bakke waste incinerator near Copenhagen. The Nordic region is well placed for carbon storage due to having large areas of the North Sea, where natural gas reserves have been depleted and thus may be used for storing carbon dioxide. These storage facilities could also be offered to other countries outside the Nordics. And if we also get the production going of green fuels like methanol that require a supply of CO2, we will even be able to use the carbon dioxide actively in the green transition and create products that show great potential for exports.

nordic business // 16

The Norwegian dilemma:

THE LAST OF THE OIL? By Marie-Louise Arnfast

Photo: Equinor, Øyvind Gravås and Evan Kleppa

In September this year, Norwegians voted in a new majority at the Stortinget parliament after an election campaign where climate issues featured heavily. Or more precisely: What should happen with the oil and gas that is still left out there in the North Sea? Should it be brought on the same scale as before and continue to be the black gold that finances Norway’s welfare society? And should there still be exploration for new oil reserves which are potentially just as plentiful as what has been extracted over the past 50 years? Or should Norway wind down oil and gas production as soon as possible and bet heavily on becoming a major exporter of green energy from both water and wind?

However, the change of government, with the Labour party now set to head up a coalition, will not necessarily lead to a radical change in Norway’s oil regime, since the party is not likely to need the support of other parties on the left that are calling for an accelerated phase-out of oil production. Meanwhile, the oil company Equinor (formerly known as Statoil) – the country’s biggest oil and gas producer which is 67 percent owned by the Norwegian state – is working hard on plans to make its oil extraction much greener, though not as hard as it should, critics say. They point out that Equinor’s plans for boosting energy efficiency and the green electrification of its oil platforms only address the CO 2 emissions from oil extraction itself and not all the emissions generated by the consumption of the oil and gas around the globe – which after all make up some 95 percent of the total global emissions from the company’s product. Equinor is also throwing a lot of resources at “blue hydrogen”, where hydrogen is produced from natural gas while also capturing and storing the carbon dioxide. Blue hydrogen can be used to replace black or grey hydrogen where the CO 2 is not removed but emitted into the atmosphere. The main argument for intensifying the production of blue hydrogen is that there currently isn’t enough sustainable energy to produce green hydrogen on the scale needed to replace fossil based hydrogen, and that the transition to a more hydrogen-based energy system would happen faster with plentiful supplies of blue hydrogen, making the way for much wider use of green hydrogen once it becomes possible to produce greater supplies of it. With the Norwegian state as its main owner, the question for Equinor is hardly if the production of oil and natural gas should be phased out, but rather when. The principal argument for continuing oil and gas production is that the world will still need fossil fuels for several years to come, and it would be better to make these in more sustainable ways in Norway than what is currently the case elsewhere. The oil and gas sector represents some 42 percent of Norway’s national exports and is estimated to generate 14 percent of the country’s GDP. That makes it a supertanker that is hard to turn – and with a new government in Stortinget, it will be exciting to see how that is handled.

Look globally for your next employee We are specialists in international recruitments no matter where in the world you need new employees. We cooperate with leading job boards in 140 countries and carry out all the work for you from our offices in Denmark. We offer you one contract, currency and time zone. Contact your account mangager at Jobindex and learn how we can make your internatonal recruitment simpler than ever.

nordic business // 18


By Greg Morton

With a sharp uptick forecast in the sales of electric vehicles (EV) in the coming decades, startups in the Nordic region have been quick to see the potential all the way along the supply chain from battery manufacturing to domestic charging solutions. Put together the EU’s commitment to the Paris Treaty (to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030) with an ever-growing appetite from the public to “go green,” and it becomes obvious that the global electric car industry is heading for a boom. But while demand is one thing, sorting out how the next generations of vehicles can be powered is another. Northvolt is one of several companies in and around the sector in the Nordic region that not only understood that

simple equation themselves but, sensing an opportunity, they acted on it. And with favorable infrastructure conditions to rely on, a series of other large and smaller scale projects, including the likes of FREYR and Morrow in Norway, and Denmark’s Monta are keen to be part of the revolution. The numbers add up The business case for battery manufacturers Northvolt, FREYR, Morrow and others is straightforward. Demand for vehicles is growing, electricity is relatively cheap in the Nordics, and the countries have good transport links with the rest of Europe – which is of special significance bearing in mind the weight, and consequential cost, of moving batteries. The market is already growing. Forecasts vary, but even taking the coronavirus pandemic into account, electric car sales in Western Europe doubled to 727,927 in 2020 and they are expected to reach some 1 million in 2021.*

By 2033 – five years earlier than previously expected – EV sales will exceed those of combustion engines in Europe, China and the US according to another study by Ernst & Young. Furthermore, they estimate that by 2045, non-EV sales will have more or less collapsed, accounting for less than 1% of the global car market. Northvolt – a star is born Enjoying first mover advantage in the Nordic region is Sweden’s Northvolt, Europe’s largest battery start-up, founded in Sweden in 2016, originally under the name SGF Energie. CEO Peter Carlsson, who spent six years at Tesla was in a better position than most to gauge which way the wind was blowing during his time in charge of the supply chain at Elon Musk’s groundbreaking company. Carlsson realized that there was an opportunity for a new producer in his home country of Sweden to rival Asia in the battle for battery making supremacy by establishing a European supply chain.

Photo: Northvolt

nordic business // 19

The company’s mission is bold and straightforward – “to build the world’s greenest battery to enable the European transition to renewable energy.” At the heart of its commitment the continent’s largest battery cell factory, Northvolt Ett, in Skellefteå, northern Sweden which will eventually have an annual battery cell production of 60 GWh. If it succeeds in meeting its targets it could gain a 25% share in the European market for electric vehicle batteries by 2030. Time flies A lot has happened in a relatively short space of time at Northvolt. The company was only officially launched in March 2017, but really hit the headlines seven months later with the announcement that it would establish its first so-called gigafactory, Northvolt Ett, in Skellefteå, in the north of Sweden. Further south in Västerås meanwhile, Northvolt Labs, a demonstration factory and research facility would also be built, and construction began the follithium ion batteries before large*Source: Schmidt Automotive

nordic business // 20

scale production takes off. When the 19,000 sqm plant was originally conceived it was expected to have an annual production capacity of 350 MWh and create jobs for up to 400 people, although with greater investment funding granted since, that could double in years to come. The eyes of the world, including the biggest car manufacturers were sitting up and taking notice of events in Sweden and in 2019, Northvolt announced that together with Volkswagen (which now owns 20% of the company) plans for a second factory – Northvolt Zwei – in Salzgitter, northern Germany were unveiled. In keeping with its strategy of partnering with major car makers, Northvolt also signed a €2 billion deal with BMW to start delivering batteries to the Bavarian giant from 2024. The move made sense from the Germans’ perspective with BMW having publicly stated its intention to have 25 electrified models on the roads – more than half of which will be fully-electric – by 2023. Meanwhile, to underline the flexibility of the technology, major partners from other sectors including Scania, Siemens, Vattenfall, ABB and wind turbine manufacturer Vestas have come onboard. 2021 has been another busy year for Northvolt. March saw VW place an order of $14 billion for battery cells, while in the summer, a new capital injection of $2.75 billion in equity was

secured, which will go towards the expansion of the Skellefteå gigafactory. Annual production capacity at Northvolt Ett will consequently rise to 60 GWh, up from the previously envisaged 40GWh. To put that in context, Northvolt will be able to produce enough batteries for 1 million electric vehicles a year. Beyond the automobile Northvolt’s strategy goes much further than making batteries for cars though and from the outset, renewable energy generation has been a key focus. Going back to the Paris Treaty, if we are to replace fossil fuels with cleaner forms of energy it will inevitably have consequences on the stability of the energy grid. In simple terms, the “holy grail” that Peter Carlsson is aiming for is that his company will help to ensure grid stability by producing batteries capable of storing energy when the wind is not blowing, and the sun isn’t shining. Meanwhile, the recycling of materials from batteries is another area of interest. While global lithium deposits are still in plentiful supply for now, mining it on the kind of scale that will be necessary moving forward has obvious environmental consequences. This in turn puts pressure on battery manufacturers, including Northvolt, to work on

October 2017 October 2016 Northvolt is founded with the mission to build the world's greenest battery

Plans to build Northvolt Ett, in Skellefteå are confirmed. A demonstration factory and research facility, Northvolt Labs, to be established in Västerås, Sweden.

March 2017 Northvolt officially launched at Stockholm HQ

June 2018 Groundwork begins at Northvolt Ett in Skellefteå

April 2018 Construction of Northvolt Labs in Västerås begins

October 2018 Development of Northvolt Battery Systems Jeden, in Gdansk, Poland begins

nordic business // 21

“We have prepared and worked for an investment of this size to happen for over 10 years, and the impact that Northvolt, and the following investments, have had on Skellefteå are immense. Together with all investments made in the Northern parts of Sweden, they make up an historical shift where we are in the center of the transformation towards a sustainable society. Not only for the city of Skellefteå, but for Sweden and Europe”

recycling their own materials. With this in mind, half of all Northvolt’s raw material requirements will be sourced from recycled batteries by 2030. Revolt, Northvolt’s recycling program was officially launched in December 2019 and a pilot plant has been built in Västerås. Meanwhile, a full-scale recycling plant at the Northvolt Ett gigafactory in Skellefteå will be established by 2022. Announcing the launch of the recycling initiative, Carlsson said, “With this program Northvolt will be able to recover valuable materials from cells and return them to manufacturing flows. Recycling will reduce the need for mining raw materials, improve security of supply and lower the environmental footprint of Northvolt cells by reducing mining-related emissions.” Sky-high ambition Bearing in mind the location of Northvolt’s gigafactory, just the simple task of getting numerous people from Skellefteå airport to the plant 30 km away presents a logistical challenge. In response, the company has joined a project looking at manufacturing “air taxis” that take off vertically like a helicopter. The hope here is that these vehicles will offer a more sustainable form of transport across shorter distances during a time when research continues over the question of how to logistically and economically power larger scale aircraft. The age of electric-powered aviation is surely not far off, and it is hard to imagine that here too Northvolt will not be heavily involved. And speaking of Skellefteå, the choice of location for the Northvolt Ett gigafactory marks not only a major step for the company and the sector, but also for the region as well. By opting

to build the plant there, the company provided a huge boost to the city and the surrounding areas. Not only does Northvolt provide a valuable boost for the local jobs market but having a progressive operator in the field of sustainability will also make the region as a whole more attractive. Local councilors in Skellefteå and elsewhere have long harbored dreams of creating a new tech hub there and the more that companies like Northvolt bring highly skilled labor to the area, the more attractive it will become. “We have prepared and worked for an investment of this size to happen for over 10 years, and the impact that Northvolt, and the following investments, have had on Skellefteå are immense. Together with all investments made in the Northern parts of Sweden, they make up an historical shift where we are in the center of the transformation towards a sustainable society. Not only for the city of Skellefteå, but for Sweden and Europe,” says Helena Renström, Marketing Manager, Skellefteå municipality Competition over the border Northvolt isn’t the only Nordic EV battery manufacturer on the market though. Norway has high hopes for battery production. Four companies are said to be planning battery factories by 2026, with investments totaling some €7.5 billion. Like in the case of Northvolt, they are planning to leverage the country’s low cost hydroelectric and wind power, some of the lowest electricity prices in Europe and shorter delivery distances to key markets in Europe and the US compared with their Asian competitors. One, FREYR, is planning to manufacture high-density lithiumion batteries to supply not just the automotive sector but also energy storage, marine transportation, aviation and offshore

April 2019 A second environmental permit, extending Northvolt Ett production capacity to 16 GWh/year is received

December 2019 Recycling program, Revolt is launched

March 2021 Acquires US battery technology company Cuberg

June 2021 $2.75 billion in equity raised to finance expansion of Northvolt Ett to 60 GWh

October 2019

June 2020

March 2021

Building work begins at Northvolt Ett.

Hydro and Northvolt launch Hydrovolt – to establish an EV battery recycling facility in Norway in 2021.

Volkswagen places $14 billion battery cell order

nordic business // 22

Photo: Northvolt

oil. Based in Mo i Rana in the north of the country, FREYR is planning to develop up to 43 GWh of battery cell production capacity, which would be capable of powering some 600,000 electric cars every year, by 2025. Production at its plant should start in 2022. Another gigafactory, also in Moi i Rana, is planned for 2028. Having raised $600m from investors in 2021, and with partners including VW and Volvo onboard, FREYR is aiming to make battery cells with the industry’s lowest CO2-footprint at four gigafactories in Norway and one in Finland. There, a strategic partnership has already been agreed with Finnish Minerals Group and the City of Vaasa to develop a potential site. Looking further ahead, FREYR hopes to reach some 150GWh of production by the end of the decade and there are also rumors of a possible venture in North America. Watch this space. Two’s company? Further demonstrating the Nordic interest in battery production, another Norwegian operator, Morrow, was founded in 2020. It plans to develop and manufacture the world’s most cost-effective and sustainable cobalt-free batteries further south, along “The Battery coast.” Cobalt-free batteries are based on LNMO (lithium-nickelmanganese oxide) technology, where cobalt is replaced by manganese in the battery’s cathode. If they are successful, it will half the cost of the cathode material which is the most expensive part of the battery. With a planned production start of Q4 2024, the proposed factory at Arendal will have an annual capacity of 42 GWh battery cells, using 100% renewable hydroelectric power. This would be enough to supply batteries for more than 700,000 electric vehicles each year. Underlining the level of support from the state, this summer, the company was awarded a NOK 25 million grant from the Norwegian government. The Innovation Norway environmental technology scheme finances the development, pilot and demonstration of new environmental technology and innovative products or processes that solve an environmental problem.


CEO Peter Carlsson, who spent six years at Tesla was in a better position than most to gauge which way the wind was blowing during his time in charge of the supply chain at Elon Musk’s groundbreaking company. Carlsson realized that there was an opportunity for a new producer in his home country of Sweden to rival Asia in the battle for battery making supremacy by establishing a European supply chain. The company’s mission is bold and straightforward – “to build the world’s greenest battery to enable the European transition to renewable energy.”

nordic business // 23

LUNAR PILOT CHRONOGRAPH SPECIAL 50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION DANMARK - KØBENHAVN K: Strøgets Ure-Guld, Nygade . BALLERUP: Ballerupguld, Ballerup Centret . RØDOVRE: Aveny, Rødovre Centrum . NÆSTVED: Borup Design, Næstved Storcenter ROSKILDE: Svend’s Ure, Skomagergade . NAKSKOV: Byens Ure & Guld, Søndergade . ODENSE: Christoffersen Guld Sølv Ure, Tarup Center . Skovgaard, Jernbanegade . Skovgaard, Rosengårdcentret MIDDELFART: Guldsmed Bendt Larsen, Algade . KOLDING: Lykkes Guld & Sølv, Jernbanegade . RIBE: Guldsmedjen i Ribe, Mellemdammen . VEJLE: Aram Smykker, Nørregade BRANDE: Din Smykkebutik - Nyt Syn, Torvet . HOLSTEBRO: Nicolaisen Ure & Guld, Nørreportcentret . Viclara Smykker & Ure, Nørregade STRUER: Profil Optik, Østergade . LEMVIG: Engens Ure, Vestergade . NYKØBING M: Clockhuset, Algade . AARHUS C: House of Diamonds, Banegårds plads . Ditur, Store Torv EBELTOFT: Ebeltoft Guld & Sølv, Adelgade . SILKEBORG: Christoffersen Guld Sølv Ure, Torvet . HORSENS: Poul Halse, Søndergade . SKANDERBORG: Hugo Mortensen, Adelgade HJØRRING: Møller Guld Sølv Ure, Østergade . HINNERUP: Hinnerup Ure Guld Sølv . ÅRS: Hinrichsen Guld Sølv Ure, Himmerlandsgade NORGE - BODØ: Presis Ur & Gull, City Nord STAVANGER: Urmaker Thorbjørnsen, Nytorget SVERIGE - GÖTEBORG: Magnussons Ur, Korsgatan MARIESTAD: Klockan Ur & Guld, Kungsgatan

nordic business // 24

Charge! What about the drivers? So, we know that in the Nordics, like the rest of Europe, people will be buying electric cars in greater numbers than ever, propelled it is hoped, by Nordic produced batteries. But how will we go about charging them? It is suggested in some quarters that the lack of availability of charging stations could pose a threat to the growth of the EV market, in Europe especially. And while a wider proliferation will certainly help ease the problem, according to a Danish software company a large part of the issue is not actually the number of existing chargers, but more, the efficient use of them. It was this reasoning that ultimately led to Casper Rasmussen and Anders Pedersen founding Monta, dubbed “Airbnb for car charging.” The logic behind it is simple – private owners and even more so, companies who own EV chargers are only using them for a short amount of time every day, and the latter use very

At our core, we make EV charging simple, accessible and reliable rarely outside office hours. They can, with the help of an app, use those “free” hours and build a new revenue stream from them. “At our core, we make EV charging simple, accessible and reliable,” says Marcus Enetjärn Monta’s Sweden Country Manager. “While European EV sales continue growing, the experience of both using and managing charge points remains cumbersome. For EV drivers, charging outside of cities is challenging due to the lack of public charging stations, payment options vary greatly, and there is no visibility into things like price or occupancy. Charge point owners, on their side, have no good means of offering access to their charge points or collecting payments. Monta’s software solves pains for both user groups.” Keep it simple The app that Monta has developed is very simple and user friendly. Owners, whether they are private, or businesses, can let prospective nearby customers find them on a map. They can set their own price level for the customer and Monta takes care of the whole transaction, taking a percentage in the case of private owners and a licensing fee from businesses. The need for more charging points varies depending on the maturity of the market, but in the UK, one of Monta’s key focus markets, the UK Committee on Climate Change estimates that by 2030, 1,170 charge points will be needed per 100 km of road. Recent figures show that in 2019 it was less than half of its target with 570 charging points per 100km. Monta has already been launched in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany and the United Kingdom in less than a year and in 2022, they intend to open up in the rest of Europe’s biggest markets. “We’ve also set our sights on North America and the Middle East because of the share market size and because requests have started to come in. The growth has been rapid already – we started with eight people last October, we’re now around 50 already” adds Enetjärn.

With €4.5million partly raised from a Swedish investment firm dedicated to sustainable projects, the company has around 7,000 active users and the ambition is to reach 400,000 next year. For now, although there are already plenty of private owners using the app, the focus is on businesses. “Installers and operators have been looking for a system like this. That’s why we are mostly focused on them, but they will in return also generate private Monta users, so it’s a win-win,” says Enetjärn. Much depends, of course, on the growth of the EV industry as a whole, as well as a change in the public’s perceptions, according to Enetjärn. “There is still a slight suspicion that if you’re outside a city, or on a long journey you will find it really difficult to charge your EV. We don’t want people to think, ‘Oh, just another app’ because what we do is much more than that – the app is just part of it,” he says. A brighter, greener future on the horizon? In conclusion, as the automobile industry looks for alternatives to Asia for its supply line, Europe, and the Nordic region in particular, are very well placed to capitalize. The region offers competitive advantages for large scale sustainable, battery cell production thanks to low-cost renewable energy, a plentiful local supply of raw materials as well as a highly skilled workforce. That’s not to say there aren’t challenges though, among them the possibility of heavy subsidies offered to EV car buyers in some regions drying up, and some concerns over the possibility that demand from the car industry may be too high for battery suppliers to actually deliver on. Any groundbreaking new technology will face issues though, and while battery makers are aware of possible pitfalls, the outlook for the Nordic region and the EV business in Europe still looks brighter than ever. But is there more to it than just cheap electricity and handy locations that makes so many companies in the Nordics want to get involved in the EV sector? Ask anyone in the region what they are most passionate about, and chances are, the words “sustainability”, “nature”, and “technology” will figure prominently. All of which is music to the ears of everyone at the likes of Northvolt, FREYR, Morrow, Monta et al, and goes a long way to explaining why they’re likely to attract goodwill not just from investors, but also the public at large.

Strøget, København | Rødovre Centrum | City 2, Tåstrup | Lyngby Storcenter | Frederiksberg Centret | Kolding Storcenter | Field’s | Bruuns Galleri | Kongensgade 49, Esbjerg | Rosengårdcentret, Odense | Aalborg Storcenter | Storcenter Nord, Aarhus | Slotsarkaderne, Hillerød | Bryggen, Vejle | herningCentret | Waves

nordic business // 26


By Flemming Østergaard

Across Europe, new and tougher legislation is being introduced to prevent foreign direct investment in critical sectors, infrastructure and technology. Denmark introduces some of the strictest rules, says lawyer Nikolaj Juhl Hansen, who is a partner in the Nordic / Baltic law firm Magnusson’s cross-border M&A team. It was neither the Russians nor the Japanese who took over the whole world. The Soviet Union disintegrated and Japan experienced an unparalleled financial collapse. But developments in the wake of the fall of the Berlin Wall paved the way for others. Liberalization and globalization accelerated,

increasing capital movements across national borders and massive outsourcing from the West to low-wage economies around the world. Globalization has brought hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. It has also spread supply chains across the globe, thus making the global economy and individual countries more vulnerable to regional crises, as illustrated by the COVID-19 pandemic. And not least, globalization has given great economic and political power to countries other than the West. Western dominance is fading, and a new world order is still evolving with China at the forefront. The one-party state has experienced tremendous growth for many years and is expanding on many fronts. Supported by One Belt, One Road and Made in China 2025 - plans to ensure China a better connection to Asia, Europe and Africa - as well as continuing focused efforts to place China at the top of the world’s value chains in strategically important areas.

China is coming. But so is Russia, the Middle East, and others who do not share the same values as Western democracies - and all are aware of the importance of critical resources, emerging new technologies and the key importance of access to infrastructure. That worries the other two great powers - the United States and the European Union. In recent years, the EU has launched plans for strategic autonomy - plans to ensure the EU’s role in the new world order with increased protection of critical infrastructure and a stronger degree of self-sufficiency in, and staying in, control over a number of other strategically important areas. Part of this development is about limiting foreign direct investments (FDI). FDI is carried out by companies across national borders and creates direct, stable and long-lasting economic connections between economies. For business and the national economy, FDI is an important parameter. It allows companies to make important investments

in foreign companies, projects, joint ventures, strategic partnerships, etc. FDI is particularly important for open economies such as the Nordic countries, which are heavily dependent on close cooperation with foreign companies and do not always have access to the necessary capital. FDI can become a threat The downside of FDI is that it can become too much of a good thing. In Europe, there is frustration that high-tech companies are often bought up by American giants or others outside Europe before they grow to become ’champions’. But what has caused the most concern is that Chinese companies in particular are able to make many acquisitions in Europe, including in critical infrastructure. There are several examples of Chinese state-owned enterprises acquiring European ports, electricity networks and other critical infrastructure. The Chinese own almost 9 per cent of Thames Water. In Greece, they have the controlling stake

Photo: Volvo Group

nordic business // 27

nordic business // 28

Photo: Pirelli and KUKA

In this decade, Swedish Volvo, Italian Pirelli and German manufacturer of industrial robots KUKA have all ended up in Chinese hands.

in the port of Piraeus, and in Portugal they have taken over the bank BCP, the insurance company Fidelidade and REN, which controls the electricity grid. And in this decade, Swedish Volvo, Italian Pirelli, French Club Med and German Kuka and KraussMaffei have also ended up in Chinese hands. In Germany, there have also been examples of Chinese statebacked companies buying high-tech companies, aiming to bring the technologies home to China. In recent years in particular, there has been an increasing focus on the fact that FDI in this way can pose a threat to national security and public order. The COVID-19 pandemic created increased political awareness around the issue as it made many companies vulnerable to acquisitions from foreign companies. In March 2020, the European Commission issued a guide on the use of FDI screening in times of health crises and economic instability. And in October 2020, an EU regulation entered into force that sets certain minimum requirements for the national rules on FDI screening that member states can put into effect. Centralized EU screening is not in the cards, in contrast to USA’s CFIUS - Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. In the EU, individual countries are allowed to set their own rules for screening. FDI screening is about a country being able to make restrictions with a special focus on critical infrastructure and critical

technologies, which can mean that a foreign company’s investments are not allowed. Under EU rules, however, individual Member States can only ban investment if it poses a threat to national security or public order - either in the individual country, in several EU countries or in the EU in general. Danish legislation is currently among the strictest In Denmark, a new law has entered into force as of 1 July 2021, which covers all investments and certain “special economic agreements” from 1 September 2021. And it is a law that is currently among the toughest in the EU. ”It’s not going to stop FDI. But this means that Denmark is going from being one of the world’s most open economies to being one of the most formally closed. Because a system is being introduced with a wide scope, where foreign companies must have a permit and go through a longer approval procedure, presumably of up to 60 days or even longer, which may mean that they look for attractive investments in other countries instead. It is positive that we are introducing rules that regulate who can gain control of our critical infrastructure, but in my opinion the new screening system goes too far, and the framework is too broad,” says Nikolaj Juhl Hansen, lawyer and partner at Magnusson, a business law firm with offices across the Nordics and Baltics.

nordic business // 29

The Danish government’s arguments for introducing a ’robust’ screening system at the ’more restrictive end’ of what has been seen in the EU include concerns about investments from China, Russia and investment funds in the Middle East. But also, specific events such as the sale of a stake in DONG to Goldman Sachs and the sale of the Danish state’s vaccine production to a buyer with roots in Saudi Arabia have played a role. The other Nordic countries have also tightened up. In Finland, a system has been introduced which was expanded quite significantly in the spring of 2020 in light of what in a COVID-19 age is deemed critical infrastructure and technologies. And in Sweden, new rules are on the way in the autumn. In Norway, a new law was introduced as early as 1 January 2019, which, however, does not aim at specific sectors, but allows the Norwegian authorities to block FDI if it’s considered to be a threat to national security. The law has been put into use this year when the marine engine factory Bergen Engines, owned by Rolls-Royce (owned by BMW), was in the process of being sold to a Russian company. But Bergen Engines is a supplier to the Norwegian navy, and therefore the Norwegian government chose to block the deal for security and defence reasons. “The trend in most European countries is that, especially

The Norwegian government has earlier in 2021 blocked the sale of Bergen Engines to a Russian company for security reasons. Bergen Engines is a supplier to NATO-member Norway’s navy.

after COVID-19, more sectors, more technologies and more infrastructure are defined as critical. If you had made the rules five years ago, you probably would not have included vaccine production, but you do today. A lot of fintech companies will also be affected because payment systems are critical infrastructure. If you look at personal sensitive data that is also regulated by the new screening law, this means that many tech companies will be affected by it. In the Danish model, the fishing net has been spread far too widely on critical technologies. All companies that develop or produce advanced industrial robots, for example, are also within the definition of critical technology. This means that the foreign investments you have seen in the robot cluster in Odense will no longer be possible without them being approved,” says Nikolaj Juhl Hansen, who together with his colleagues at Magnusson’s other offices in the Nordic and Baltic countries see FDI rules, mushrooming up in different shapes and sizes country by country, contributing to a significantly increased complexity in cross-border investment transactions. However, the lawyer does not believe that the new legislation will prevent the sale of companies such as Universal Robots, but he points out that the owner of Universal Robots has had a transaction stopped in France because the French

nordic business // 30

company’s products could be used militarily. In France, the interior minister also intervened when Canadian Couche Tard - that owns Circle K in Denmark - planned the purchase of supermarket giant Carrefour. The minister said that Carrefour was critical French infrastructure within food distribution. The transaction was not completed. Among the challenges posed by the new legislation is that it can limit friendly investments in the Danish business community, Nikolaj Juhl Hansen points out.

“Dual-use products in particular will present challenges in screening. These are companies that produce products that can be used for both military and civilian purposes - regardless of whether the military production only makes up 1 per cent of the company’s turnover”

”That is the biggest problem. A system has been created with rules so strict that someone dubbed it ‘trawling where f ly fishing is required’. The rules even include investments from EU countries, which Confederation of Danish Industry and Danish Chamber of Commerce called for to change in the consultation process,” says Nikolaj Juhl Hansen. The new rules may also have an impact on the entrepreneurial environment in Denmark. Denmark is known for having relatively less capital for start-up companies than is needed, which is why some apply to Swedish, American, English and other foreign investors. The new legislation will be able to give Danish investors and investment funds a comparative advantage, but it will create less competition and may weaken entrepreneurs’ opportunities to raise capital on the same favourable terms. Who gets hit? The starting point for the EU screening plan, adopted in March 2019, is the protection of critical sectors and areas. It is about critical infrastructure, critical technologies, supply of critical inputs such as energy, raw materials and food, access to sensitive information or the ability to control information, including media freedom and pluralism. In practice, this means that among the areas that are particularly in focus are the defence industry, advanced industrial robots, certain forms of artificial intelligence, Power

to X, Fintech, IT security, generally critical infrastructure suppliers as well as companies that have dual-use products in the portfolio, Nikolaj Juhl Hansen points out. “Dual-use products in particular will present challenges in screening. These are companies that produce products that can be used for both military and civilian purposes - regardless of whether the military production only makes up 1 per cent of the company’s turnover.” When it comes to really big investments, the companies involved are used to competition authorities assessing the deal, which takes time. However, the new legislation hits the way of thinking and doing business, as many SMEs and family owned businesses who are now deemed to be involved with critical infrastructure or technology do not see themselves as such - and it will hit them so that they are not able to act across national borders in a globalized world as they are used to. In that sense, Nikolaj Juhl Hansen believes that the legislation will be toughest for small and medium-sized companies, because they are used to operating more freely and with a much less complicated sets of rules. Time will tell how the Danish Business Authority and the other authorities in the Nordic region and other European countries handle screening of FDI. The hope is that it will be a relatively smooth and fast procedure without it becoming inhibiting and directly blocking many investments between developed countries. But it is difficult to ignore the need for new rules. A new and more complex world order is establishing itself in a global race for technology and resources.

Nikolaj Juhl Hansen, Partner in the Nordic / Baltic law firm Magnusson’s crossborder M&A team.

nordic business // 31


IT Security


3D print

Biotech (synthetic biology)

Quantum technology

Regarding critical technologies, NOT.... if technology is developed or manufactured for consumer products that are widely available (e.g. toys and consumer goods for home use)

Critical sectors

Source: Magnusson

Dual-use products

Al / machine learning

Nuclear technology


Cyber security


Power to X technology

Advanced industrial robots

Transport infrastructure

IT infrastructure

Emergency services and civil protection

Energy infrastructure

Sewage water and renovation

Financial infrastructure


Public authorities

Health infrastructure

Food and drinks infrastructure

Public crisis management

Critical technologies

Critical infrastructure

nordic business // 32


In a year of uncertainty and accelerated change emerging from the shadow of the Covid pandemic, here is our list of five individuals scaling the highs and lows of the Nordic business world.



nordic business // 33

Buy now, pay later

Bestselling Dane

Sebastian Siemiatkowski is now the undisputed king of the Nordic fintechs. Following another funding round in June, his Swedenbased company Klarna became the second most valuable privately held fintech company in the world, topping a value of $45.6 billion. Klarna is a pioneer of buy-now-pay-later (BNPL), allowing customers to spread the cost of shopping across several instalments without the high charges usually associated with traditional credit cards.

The success of Klarna has also added to the fortunes of Anders Holch Povlsen, Denmark’s wealthiest person and a major investor in the Swedish fintech as well as a host of other internet companies. His wealth shot up by some 4 billion dollars in just one day after Klarna’s latest funding round. Klarna is now the most valuable company is Holch Povlsen’s extensive portfolio - worth even more than Bestseller, the fashion company that is the original source of his fortune.

Will she, won’t she? Ida Wolden Bache is hotly tipped to become the first-ever female governor in the 207-year history of Norway’s central bank, Norges Bank, when current head Øystein Olsen steps down in 2022. That would see her join a sadly rather small club of female central bank governors, numbering just 18 across the globe compared to 167 male governors. Wolden Bache is already one of the most influential women in Norway as the current deputy governor of Norges Bank.

Never waste a good crisis As one of “the three Bjørns” behind Norwegian Airlines, Bjørn Tore Larsen took a hit when the airline nearly folded last year and threatened to bring down his own company, leading crew management provider OSM Aviation. Never one to waste a good crisis, he now hopes to take off again with a new airline, Norse Atlantic, in a gamble to succeed where Norwegian failed: Making low-cost flights profitable across the Atlantic. On board are also the two other Bjørns of Norwegian Airline fame, Bjørn Kjos and Bjørn Kise.

Chasing football glory Sweden’s Daniel Ek may be world famous as the founder of music streaming giant Spotify, but what he really wants is to take over Arsenal FC, the English premier league football club he has admired since childhood. The club’s current owner, Stan Kroenke, may be hugely unpopular among Arsenal supporters but has rejected an offer of £1.8 billion from Ek and insists he won’t be selling out. Maybe Ek should stick to his day job?

nordic business // 34

Marianne Dahl, Managing Director & Partner responsible for Digital Sustainable Transformation at BCG Denmark

nordic business // 35

It is a proven fact that a focus on diversity – including gender diversity – is good for the bottom line. Yet Danish tech companies remain far behind on gender equality – especially at the highest executive level. Anders Fæste and Marianne Dahl from Boston Consulting Group offer solutions ranging from maths teachers inspiring more girls to take up STEM skills to social media engaging in a less condescending tone towards female top executives.


A growing number of studies have offered clear evidence that companies get a boost to their bottom line by working to improve diversity – including gender diversity – at both the management level and across the organisation as a whole. “We need diversity, and not just for diversity’s sake. It’s indisputable that diversity creates value for companies. We see that both in key figures like the bottom line and shareholder dividends and in the shape of more innovation, more creativity and better working conditions. It’s just more fun and more inspiring to be in a workplace with a multitude of different people rather than copies of the same prototype,” says Anders Fæste, Managing Director of the Denmark office of global consulting giant Boston Consulting Group (BCG). Yet according to BCG, only some 11 percent of companies see their work on organisational diversity as directly linked to value creation. “There’s still a fair amount of cynicism suggesting that companies which boast high diversity are firms that were already doing well to start with. But luckily, I think we’re moving away from that scepticism. It’s good for your business to work on diversity. That’s a fact and that will start to be more widely recognised.”

Denmark in freefall Indeed, there is much room for improvement. Denmark is famous for its gender diversity in many areas but still falls short when it comes to getting more women into top management. Just 12 percent of the CEOs at Danish companies with more than 50 employees are women. And over the past 15 years, Denmark has been in freefall on the World Economic Forum ranking of countries based on gender diversity in management, dropping from number 53 in the 2006 survey down to number 101 in the latest ranking. Women are still mainly seen in support functions and management positions with no direct bottom-line responsibility. Among executives with bottom-line responsibility, men dominate with 86 percent. And that worries Anders Fæste. Especially if we see the current pipeline as an indicator of the future gender distribution among top executives. “The first, very significant loss of women happens in the educational sector which is still very gender divided in Denmark. Women are still poorly represented in natural science, technology, engineering and finance studies, which are the fields

nordic business // 36

“There’s still a fair amount of cynicism suggesting that companies which boast high diversity are firms that were already doing well to start with. But luckily, I think we’re moving away from that scepticism. It’s good for your business to work on diversity. That’s a fact and it will start to be more widely recognised” Anders Fæste, Managing Director of Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in Denmark.

of education that generate the most executives. That problem is made worse by companies continuing to recruit from a narrow range of education. A lot of CEOs have been saying that we need more diversity in education, but if we look at how companies recruit, they still think along very traditional lines in relation to their own industry and background.” The teacher is the earlies role model The pipeline of future leaders in tech is also negatively impacted by women being underrepresented in STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). Today, women make up just 9 percent of executives in the Danish tech industry. That leaves far too few female role models. An important part of the solution is to bring role models into girls’ lives at a much earlier stage, says Marianne Dahl, the former CEO of Microsoft Denmark who joined BCG Denmark on October 1 this year as a Managing Director & Partner responsible for Digital & Sustainable Transformation. “The fundamental problem in Denmark compared to other countries is that girls tend to choose different education routes to boys. If we want more girls to take up STEM subjects, we also need to remember that teachers of physics, maths, chemistry and other STEM skills in schools and high schools are the first potential role models that girls will come across. Both the education sector and teachers need to be more aware of that. Out of the current

generations of mothers, there are far too few women trained in natural sciences. We really need to lean on teachers at schools and high schools.” When the candidate looks like you The next hurdle is recruiting women in tech. It is a long, hard pull to fight against the unconscious bias that makes recruitment so lopsided now, because managers tend to promote people like themselves. As an organisation, BCG has been dragging itself through that necessary process. “There’s an inertia that happens across the recruitment process, and if you don’t actively try to turn that around, those negative mechanisms simply become self-perpetuating. If you don’t blend diversity into all levels of the organisation, it doesn’t work. At BCG we’ve succeeded in some areas, but not all. We have broadened our recruitment process and now have a balance of women and men at the starting level,” Anders Fæste says. Women drop out at the senior level The real challenge is maintaining that gender balance in management when people reach the senior level. “We have Marianne coming to BCG, and our ratio of women in management is constantly improving, but that takes major changes both in our recruitment and our daily way of operating,” Anders Fæste says. Marianne Dahl adds: “If companies only look at the same limited fields of education when they recruit, and

nordic business // 37

those subjects have very few girls, it’s going to take a really long time to solve this problem. There has to be a wider focus, and one obvious place to start would be to look at suitable skills among candidates from areas such as pharmacology and medicine, which are examples of STEM subjects that don’t have any trouble attracting women. The next important role models would be female leaders in tech. If you want to start a family and maybe at the same time you’re about to move up to senior level, it’s important to see other women succeeding as both mothers and career-makers.” Problem-solving and diversity Once the diversity is there, and companies have become more diverse, managers also need new skills to run those organisations since, as Marianne Dahl points out, managing diverse teams it is far more challenging than traditional homogenous teams. “In my career I’ve tried managing both. In the homogenous team, we’d all studied at the same two or three universities in Denmark, we were all about the same age, dined at the same Copenhagen restaurants, and we’d had kids at roughly the same age. That’s a pretty easy team to run! If you need to manage a crisis here and now, a very homogenous team can be really valuable. The army is a great, almost caricatured example of that, with recruits of the same age, gender and nationality. But if you’re dealing with complex problems and creating long-term value, you need a completely different approach to problem-solving and diversity, and that’s an incredibly hard job for a manager.” Three career-defining choices When Marianne Dahl looks back on her own career in a maledominated tech world, it is obvious to her that when she was facing three of the defining situations that are now the focus of the current diversity debate, she made choices that benefitted the next phases of her career.

“We need diversity, and not just for diversity’s sake. It’s indisputable that diversity creates value for companies. We see that both in key figures like the bottom line and shareholder dividends and in the shape of more innovation” Anders Fæste, Managing Director of Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in Denmark.

“I gave myself a good starting point by studying business instead of Danish and comparative literature, which I was also interested in. All things being equal, it would have been a difficult and really long road coming from a humanities degree to a management position in tech. When I became a mother and had twins, I only had a short maternity leave and managed to get the right set-up for me in terms of child-minding, so I was able to get back fast onto the P&L track that my career was on. It would have been

more difficult had I done five or six years in a support function when the kids were small.” The third defining moment for Marianne Dahl as a woman in tech was to not let herself be scared off the idea of being a top executive. “When you become a top manager, you need to perform more externally both with the media, customers, political decision-makers and others. That’s where a lot of women hold back, because you’re far more exposed to negative comments as a woman, especially on social media, as you get overexposed because of your gender and your job. Exposure can be both positive and negative. You just need to be aware that negative exposure is part of it. Studies do show that the people who get the most negative comments on social media are women and ethnic minorities. But I’ve been equipped with a good layer of Teflon, and I’ve learnt through great advisers to not take it all so personal.” BCG growing digitally Marianne Dahl will now be heading up BCG Denmark’s digital activities which are growing fast. “We’re really focused on building a strong digital organisation, partly through acquiring tech companies and competence centres in highly specialised areas to build a portfolio of services that will help our clients. We’re actually in a situation where almost half of our work has a digital aspect. Our approach is that we need to be able to both advise companies in all the classic strategic disciplines and deliver the digital products and services which are now needed to execute a lot of strategic decisions across the whole spectre of industries,” Anders Fæste explains. Globally, BCG now has some 5,000 data scientists on the payroll, and the number is growing. “There’s a war for talent in this area, but luckily for us we are finding it easier to attract talented data professionals than a lot of companies. Data specialists like to solve the biggest, most difficult problems and then move on to something new. They don’t have the patience required to just sit there drifting away in a line organisation. We, on the other hand, have a lot of project work, where we’re solving tricky problems before moving on to the next project,” he says. Agility and micro services This has also equipped BCG well to help clients in a new era where most companies have themselves become technology companies in one way or another, even if they started out as banks, shipping companies or something else. “A few years ago, when the head of Deutsche Bank told his staff that they no longer worked for a bank but a software company, it made headline news. Since then we’ve heard Maersk here in Denmark state that they are no longer a shipping company but a technology company. Working as a consultant has also changed dramatically over the past 20 years since I started working in consulting. Back then, you implemented new IT systems following a lengthy build-test-run process. Today that happens in an agile way with a lot of micro services. So, while companies have become software businesses, the consulting sector has become an agile unit where a lot of industries, disciplines and areas of consulting are merging. I look forward to working on that, just as I look forward to working to attract as many as possible of the most talented female candidates,” Marianne Dahl concludes.

Sponsored content

nordic business // 38

MINIMIZING DOWNTIME (OR PROTECTING INVESTMENT) IS THE KEY SELLING POINT FOR PANZERGLASS Going mobile as well as the digital transformation is important for many businesses today. That’s why protection of devices has become still more important – both when it comes to physical protection and protection of intellectual properties.

By business reporter Henrik Malmgreen

When screen filters originally appeared on the market, many people thought, is that really a product I need? Maybe not at that time, but today screen filters and screen protection has emerged into big business. Really big business to be frank. And why is that? One reason is, that the workplace has become much more mobile, and another reason is that more and more businesses such as building, and construction experience a digital transformation.

“Over the years Panzerglass ha s gone through a change from a pure consumer product to adding corporate products to our portfolio, and we are focusing big time on the corporate market”, says Mick Knowles, Vice President, Corporate Sales. Today screen filters and screen protection is all about protecting your investment, he adds. Both when it comes to minimize the number of broken devices, and when it comes to not sharing your data with prying eyes.

nordic business // 39

Downtime equals lost revenue “In big companies with many employees, broken devices, e.g., a splintered front glass, can be very costly. Not only because they have to be fixed, but also because an employee without his or her device is an inefficient employee. So, minimizing downtime on the manpower is very important for businesses today”, Mick Knowles continues. Especially in tough environments and heavy industry it’s a big issue. “In a best-case scenario, it takes up to 24 hours to replace a device, and in a worst-case scenario it takes even longer. So, eliminating downtime and improving field service is paramount”, Mick Knowles says. He adds that PanzerGlass not only provides protection to standard tablets and smartphones in order to meet customer demands, but also work with protection for devices used by logistics and warehousing operations. Growing all around the globe “It is all about adding value to our corporate customers in the Business-to-Business market, and if I might add, today we are a very well-known brand. You can even say in certain regions that PanzerGlass is synonymous with screen protection, just as Xerox is synonymous with a photocopier”, Mick Knowles says. But still there is lot of potential, and alone in 2020 the company hired 50 new employees.

Sponsored content

safe than to be sorry”, says Mick Knowles and adds, that the market for Privacy filters is rapidly growing. Asked if Panzerglass is leading on the market, he states, that the company is focusing on its corporate customers, not on its competitors and have patented solutions to meet their needs. Besides that, several other issues are important, e.g., sustainability, as it is the ambition over time to reduce our carbon footprint. That’s why Panzerglass can deliver in bulk to our corporate customers companies in order to reduce waste from packaging. A brand-new business product Today Panzerglass is much more than just Privacy filters and screen protection. Cases for tablets as well as smartphones is another important business focus, and Mick Knowles presents another important incentive. Retaining the resale value of company devices when a company is upgrading is the new normal, and therefore it has become increasingly important to maintain the devices in mint condition by using PanzerGlass screen protection and cases. But as they say on TV Shop - Wait there is more! “In times where we after Covid19 have returned to our offices, it is important for companies to offer a secure environment. So, we have launched a spray product for cleaning screens. It’s without alcohol but still it removes 99.9p pct. of all bacteria without any chemical emission. That’s a brand-new strategic product for Panzerglass, Mick Knowles ends.

“Over the years Panzerglass has gone through a change from a pure consumer product to adding corporate products to our portfolio, and we are focusing big time on the corporate market” “Today we have 73 offices in 14 countries, so new talent from around the globe is very important for us”, he adds. As mentioned earlier however it is not only about psychical protection but also protection of intellectual properties, meaning protection company data from prying eyes. This has become a still more important issue, as the hybrid and mobile working place has emerged. Better to be safe than sorry “If You are sitting next to a person in a train or on a plane, it is human nature to be curious looking at the screen. 99 times out a 100 this will probably be completely harmless, but we know of incidents where important company data has been compromised. You never know who You are sitting next to, so it is better to be

Mick Knowles, Vice President, Corporate Sales, Panzerglass

nordic business // 40

Jeanette Carlsson, Founder and CEO of Tech Nordic Advocates (TNA)

nordic business // 41

Tech Nordic Advocates :

STRENGTH IN NUMBERS PUSHES THE NORDIC TECH AGENDA With networking opportunities, mentor programs, startup/investor matching, its own TNA Academy’ and ‘TNA Talks’ to stimulate digital/tech skills, a raft of events and Europe’s largest women-in-tech community and international growth program, Tech Nordic Advocates has become an invaluable “go-to” resource for anyone looking to grow and scale in the tech sector in the region.

nordic business // 42

already an active mover in the tech industry, as global tech plc business leader, entrepreneur, mentor, lecturer and government advisor, to set up an offshoot. By 2015, Tech Nordic Advocates (TNA) was up and running. TNA has quickly established itself as a go-to for players of all kinds already operating within the industry and for those looking to join. Similar to the London community, members (advocates) have access to events and networking opportunities in their respective regions as well to those in other areas that have sprung up all over the world. TNA advocates can also tap into its global mentoring program, startup/investor scouting, competence building, women-in-tech growth and corporate/startup matching program. If you’re an investor looking for deal flow meanwhile, Tech Nordic Advocates is also an invaluable resource. You may be looking for a startup in Stockholm perhaps and having problems finding one that suits your criteria. As a member of the TNA community, you will easily and quickly be able to access not only other options in the Swedish capital, but all over the region. A Nordic twist

Tamara Gehring, London Stock Exchange, Head of Primary Markets, Western Europe & Nordics

By Greg Morton

Photos: Katrine Heller

“Magic happens when you bring the right people together,” says Jeanette Carlsson, Founder and CEO of Tech Nordic Advocates (TNA) as she reflects on a journey that started in London and now has tentacles right across the globe. In 2012, serial entrepreneur Russ Shaw, CBE, with a long background in the tech and telco sector, could already see the potential of an increasingly digitalized world and the need for a private sector ecosystem to fill in the gaps the UK government could not. Forming Tech London Advocates he embarked on a mission to champion London as a global tech hub, to address some of the biggest challenges facing tech companies in the UK, including diversity, digital skills, immigration, infrastructure and access to funding.

The focus of TNA’s events is more on helping members making the right connections than attracting huge numbers. “We have a maximum of around 120, sometimes less, says Carlsson. “There’s a clear objective to match people up and ensure that when you leave our events you’ve met everyone and spoken to everyone, so that something tangible comes out of it at the end.” A good recent example was the “Canada and Swedish Tech: Building inclusive transatlantic relationships” event hosted by TNA at the Canadian Embassy in Stockholm. Some 80% of those attending on the day were female tech founders at an event that highlighted both the similarities between the sectors in the two countries as well as a profound difference in terms of the numbers of female entrepreneurs. To put it in context, Canada lies well ahead, with some 15%, compared with Sweden at just over 5% and Denmark around 1% lower. “It made perfect sense for us at TNA to look to collaborate with the Canadian Embassy, to find synergies, create relationships and ultimately aid each other in our diversity and inclusivity goals, too,” said Barry O’Brien, who, as COO of TNA Sweden set up the event.

“I could see startup tech ecosystems emerging, but what was missing was a diverse group of leaders coming together from the private sector with more of an independent voice” says Shaw.

Mind the gap That gap between the two countries underlined one of the many challenges facing the sector in general, even in an area seemingly as progressive as the Nordics/Baltics. As Russ Shaw says, “How are we going to build world leading digital products and services if they’re made up largely of white men? We need more women, more ethnicities, people from different backgrounds and those with physical disabilities to become part of the tech sector. It is biggest issue we have right now.”

Spreading Nordic wings As the organization grew (now more than 20,000 business leaders, experts and investors across Global Tech Advocates volunteer their time) so too did the need to build it out into other regions. The Nordics, already enjoying success in the digital space was an obvious region to target, so Shaw persuaded Jeanette Carlsson,

In response, the global tech advocate network, that Jeanette Carlsson has been instrumental in setting up building on the success of TNA and which now comprises some 20 tech hubs around the world, is spearheading several initiatives. In the Nordic region, for example, there is a strong focus on the recruitment and mentoring of women. The Women-in-tech community

nordic business // 43

From left: Stuart Dwyer, Chargé d’Affaires ad interim, Jeanette Carlsson, Founder and CEO of Tech Nordic Advocates, Cecilie Lonning-Skovgård, Mayor of the Employment and Integration Administration in Copenhagen, Maria Norsk, Commercial Specialist, Christopher Wilken, Senior Commercial Officer and Patrycja Dahl, Commercial Specialist

– Northern Europe’s largest – is focused on supporting and strengthening female tech entrepreneurship, access to capital, the growth of women-led tech startups and scaleups through mentoring, growth acceleration, access to capital, national and international partnerships and events. A specialized Women in Tech program has been established. Meanwhile, the UK has seen the establishment of the TLA Women in Tech group, TLA Black Women in Tech, TLA LGBTQ group and TLA Tech for Disability group, to name just a few offshoots.

an emphasis on females in particular studying STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) at school and beyond, there isn’t much in place to help them become entrepreneurs. This represents a potentially missed future opportunity, with research suggesting that companies set up by women tend to deliver higher ROI with fewer failing than their male counterparts. Unsurprisingly, this is an area of particular focus for Tech Nordic Advocates as the search goes on for more support.

Where do the next generations come from? Lack of diversity is one of several challenges both for the advocates’ communities and their sector. One that crosses all borders is the need to attract more talent. To emphasize the gravity of the situation, of about 1 million job vacancies in the UK, some 10% are in the digital and tech sector. Pinpointing the cause though is easier than finding the solution.

Joining the dots Speaking of support, the search for investment is ongoing everywhere, not least in the Nordics, says Barry O’Brien. O’Brien, who is an active tech investor alongside his TNA role knows all about the challenges, which is why he promotes the benefits of membership in the organization.

“It’s not just a government issue, the private sector needs to step up – they need to fund more of this because they will be the beneficiaries of a skilled workforce,” says Shaw. “If you talk to startups and scale ups they will tell you their biggest challenge is finding talent.” The situation in the Nordics and Baltics isn’t much different. Carlsson and O’Brien agree that while it is encouraging to see

“There’s a fundamental misunderstanding that tech companies have lots of resources,” he says. “The reality though is that you will often have one person to cover five, sometimes 10 countries. Networks like ours help to bridge that gap and make sure they have the best chances of success. Within minutes we can connect people with our counterparts all over the world. No one else in the region has that ready-to-go global network.” Funding for Tech Nordic Advocates itself comes via solo and

nordic business // 44

business membership fees, programs and sponsorships. In this respect, getting London Stock Exchange onboard recently was a major breakthrough in terms of attracting more investment from outside the region as well as within. “About 90% of venture investment into the Nordics comes from the region itself, with very little from Asia and other parts of the world. It sends a message that the London Stock Exchange goes hunting in the Nordics for their next IPOs,” Carlsson adds. Stronger together Meanwhile, although sometimes the various global hubs find themselves in competition, the individual advocates programs can help each other too. On a global basis, Russ Shaw strongly believes that the best way of tackling the issues is by getting the hubs to work together. In many ways, the Nordic and Baltic region, with its eight separate, but small countries, is a microcosm of the global ambition of the organization.

are not enough for Carlsson, Shaw and the tech sector at large, the clock is ticking on an altogether greater threat, one that involves all of us. “We do have a challenge around talent and workforce skills but also colliding with that is what the planet is facing around climate change,” says Russ Shaw. “For that reason, Tech For Net Zero and COP26 are key focal points for me. The clock is ticking and we’ve only got a few years left to resolve these issues. If we can do that successfully I’m confident that technology will lead us through some of the biggest challenges we’re facing. But we need to get on with it!”

“We don’t want to create castles surrounded by moats, because we’ve seen that tech hubs that inter-connect with other tech hubs become stronger,” says Russ Shaw. “For example, if I see a fintech business here looking to expand into the EU, I can introduce them to Tech Nordic Advocates and say ‘maybe you should look into setting up in Copenhagen or Stockholm’, or if it’s someone from Singapore looking to come into the UK, we can bring them into our community. So, we’re doing a lot more work connecting people with each other.” In the Nordics, the UK and beyond, the strength of any community lies with those working within it and the growth of the advocates’ network bears witness to Jeanette Carlsson’s original point about what can be achieved when the right people get together. But as if issues like diversity and talent attraction

Russ Shaw, Founder, Tech London Advocates and Global Tech Advocates, CBE

SURGING CAPITAL INFLOWS ARE TRANSFORMING THE NORDIC PROPERTY MARKET Up until the 2008 financial crisis the Nordic property markets were very local. Neighbours bought and sold between themselves and only they understood the price mechanisms. Then international investors discovered the Nordics as a “safe harbour”, which not only boosted turnover and raised the level of professionalism – it has also meant that property prices have become far more transparent and have levelled up across national borders.

By Sten Thorup Kristensen

nordic business // 47

LARGEST REAL ESTATE INVESTING COMPANIES’ INVESTMENTS BY COUNTRY SINCE 2018 Sweden Samhällsbyggnadsbolaget (SBB), Sweden Vonovia, Germany Corem, Sweden Blackstone, USA Balder, Sweden

Denmark Heimstaden, Sweden Niam, Sweden Koncenton, Denmark Blackstone, USA NREP, The Nordics

Norway Arctic Securities, Norway Clarksons Platou Real Estate, UK/Norway Samhällsbyggnadsbolaget (SBB), Sweden Ragde Eiendom, Norway Pareto Securities, Norway

Source: Cushman & Wakefield Note: The numbers are calculated in August 2021

With globalisation the “Nordic market” is increasingly a concept of the past. Products and services are standardising across the globe and at best the Nordic region is now seen as a corner of Europe or even Europe/Africa. But where the property market is concerned, globalisation has had exactly the opposite effect. Just 15 years ago, the Nordics were seen as separate national markets and only the Swedish market was transparent and liquid enough to be of interest to the rest of the world. Then the financial crisis hit and in its anxious aftermath international investors discovered the solid Nordic economies as a nice, safe place to put their money. And that is how it has stayed, even with everything that has happened since the crisis. Foreign capital has flowed to the Nordic property markets in steadily growing volumes. Or rather the Nordic property market, in the singular. For that is how many of the investors bringing in their capital see it, says Lior Koren, a partner with property advisors Cushman & Wakefield in Copenhagen.

“The big investors in the US and Asia see the Nordics as one market that they allocate part of their portfolio to, in the same way that they have allocated funds to buying up properties in places like Germany and Benelux. They might say the Nordics minus Denmark or the Nordics minus Norway, but no one wants to look at only Denmark or Norway,” Lior Koren states. This view of the Nordics among big international investors has had a self-perpetuating effect, as local actors are now starting to adapt to it too. “While in the past we saw substantial spreads in the returns for different products in the Nordic countries, they have now converged substantially. Only five years ago, you could easily find spreads of several percentage points, where for instance logistics properties traded at a return of 4 percent in Sweden and 6 percent in Denmark. That has narrowed and even for residentials and offices the returns are now quite similar,” Lior Koren says. He adds that even property developers and pension funds that are really building for themselves still keep the preferences of global investors in mind. It doesn’t hurt if properties are

Europe attracts this level of capital because it is highly developed. It is rare for developers to hit the jackpot in the way that they might strike it lucky in young and wild emerging markets. Putting money into a goodquality European property in a nice location will get you a decent return with very little risk.

easy to sell, should they want to do that further along the line. Hence, property development projects across the Nordic countries are starting to look very similar. But what is really driving global property investors to see the Nordics as a specific region of interest? Lior Koren points to two key drivers. The first is linked to considerable net inf lows of capital into European real estate coming from the rest of the world. Roughly told, the rest of the world is investing three times as much money in Europa as Europeans are investing in the rest of the world. In the first half of 2021 alone, this net inf low totalled 52 billion dollars, according to figures from Cushman & Wakefield. Europe attracts this level of capital because it is highly developed. It is rare for developers to hit the jackpot in the way that they might strike it lucky in young and wild emerging markets. But on the other hand, it is also rare for projects to go completely wrong. Putting money into a good-quality European property in a nice location will get you a decent return with very little risk. In that sense the Nordics are in a league above most other European countries, and that is the other driving factor that Lior Koren points to. This is a region with political stability, low transaction costs and, not least, solid public finances with low debt levels. Indirectly, this contributes to maintaining some of the lowest funding costs in the world. Only Norway is somewhat different to the other Nordic countries. Due to its oil wealth, Norway is by far the most solid country in the Nordic region, but its heavy emphasis on the oil sector also leads to a few tremors when prices drop. This is the type of uncertainty that global investors tend not to like.

But it isn’t all roses. Global investors can’t completely pretend that there are no borders between the Nordic countries. They obviously need to follow the formal rules that apply in each individual country where they buy properties. And if investors have to approach the Nordics as individual national markets, they may simply be too small. For that reason, many investors still steer clear of Denmark and Norway in particular. In the following pages you will find figures illustrating how property markets in Sweden, Denmark and Norway are adapting to this new reality where most investors are international and where many of these investors see the Nordic market as one. You can also track the biggest property deals up to and including August this year, the biggest property firms for each individual market, and the biggest property buyers since 2018. The figures were provided by Cushman & Wakefield. Figures for the largest property companies in Sweden and Denmark are reproduced from surveys published in FASTIGHETSvärlden and Estate Magasin, issue 2/2021, respectively. We would also like to point out that the figures for the biggest property companies in Sweden and Norway only include properties in the home countries of these firms, whereas figures for Denmark also include these companies’ property holdings abroad. There are several ways of assessing the size of property firms – and that exercise has not been made less complex by the scale of developments described in the next few pages.

nordic business // 49


Sweden Corem Acquisition of Klövern (70 pct.) Offentliga Hus Portfolio acquired by Samhällsbyggnadsbolaget Castellum Portfolio acquired by Blackstone


Value 35 bn SEK 9,38 bn SEK 5 bn SEK

Samhällsbyggnadsbolaget Acquisition of Unobo (70%)

4,83 bn SEK

FAM AB acquisition of Grand Hotel Stockholm from Vectura

3,6 bn SEK

Denmark Heimstadens acquisition of a portfolio with 1,473 residential units from Selmer Niams acquisition of a portfolio with 782 residential units from Birch Ejendomme


Value 2,5 bn DKK (3,4 bn SEK) est. 1,5 bn DKK (2,1 bn SEK)

Proportery value, year end 2020


162 bn SEK

Akademiska Hus

98 bn SEK


94 bn SEK


85 bn SEK


77 bn SEK

Source: FASTIGHETSvärlden


Proportery value, year end 2020

Studentbostäder i Sverige AB (SBS) acquisition of 653 youth and study residential units from Gefion Group

1,25 bn DKK (1,7 bn SEK)

PFA Ejendomme

71 bn DKK (97 bn SEK)

Orange Capital Partners (OCP) acquistion of two residential properties from Sampension & Akademikerpension

1,2 bn DKK (1,6 bn SEK)


53 bn DKK (73 bn SEK)

Starwood Capitals acquisition of Hotel Skt. Petri from Strawberry Forever

1,1 bn DKK (1,5 bn SEK)


49 bn DKK (67 bn SEK)


45 bn DKK (62 bn SEK)


41 bn DKK (56 bn SEK)



Balder’s acquisition of Asset Buyout Partners from Hitec Vision

9 bn. NOK (9 bn SEK)

Aurora Eiendom - Acquisition of five shopping centres from Steen & Strøm and KLP

4,8 bn NOK (4,8 bn SEK)

Establishment of Public Property Invest, consolidation and acquisition of 31 properties (90% public)

2,94 bn NOK (2,9 bn SEK)

Entra’s acquisition of Fyrstikkalléen 1 from Arctic Securities

2,4 bn NOK (2,4 bn SEK)

Pareto Securities acquisitiion of the Billingstad portfolio from Floberg Holding

1,8 bn NOK (1,8 bn SEK)

Source: Estate Magasin nr. 2/2021


nordic business // 50

GLOBAL PROPERTY INVESTORS CONQUERING DENMARK’S VIRGIN LAND Within just a few years, the Danish property market has gone from being extremely local to emerging as a favourite of many global investors. But while the flow of foreign money into Danish real estate might seem endless, it is not. Over the long term it will be happy clients rather than higher prices that will bring home the returns.

By Sten Thorup Kristensen

Few property companies will be known to ordinary Danes. But most Danes will have heard of the U.S. investment giant Blackstone. In the autumn of 2018 a majority of Danish MPs agreed to tighten a piece of legislation that made it possible to put up rents following renovation of a property. This particular paragraph of the law had been passed in the 1990s in a deliberate effort to raise the standard of the housing stock. But now the paragraph came to be seen in a new light: as a short-cut for unscrupulous (foreign) capitalists seeking an end to cheap rental homes in Denmark purely for the sake of short-term profits. Justifiably or not, Blackstone became the face of this unscrupulous capitalism. It is true that Blackstone has bought heavily into Danish residential properties. But since 2018 the Swedish property companies Niam and Heimstaden have been far bigger investors, and many others have joined the field. Property acquisitions took a steep dive before and after the spring of 2020, when the disputed paragraph was changed to the detriment of property companies. But since then, the speed of acquisitions in residential properties has come back stronger than before, and most of the buyers are still predominantly international investors. This development tells a story about the Danish property market over the past decade: When the lucrative paragraph was still in effect, foreign property companies did use it – but so did Danish property owners. It wasn’t the paragraph in itself that attracted them to the market. They simply like Danish residential homes. Relative to its size, the Danish market attracts more foreign capital than any other property market in the Nordics. Foreign investors are easily behind some two thirds of the turnover on the Danish real estate market, while smaller properties and properties in smaller towns are mostly of interest only to Danish investors.

Several factors play into this. While all of the Nordic countries are famed for their solid economies, Denmark’s economy is by far the most solid of them all, at least where public debt is concerned. And Denmark really was virgin land to international investors. Before the financial crisis, the Danish market seemed very local. Properties were typically owned either by pension funds which also used residential homes for the benefit of their members, or by local property companies, or by property users themselves. They expected high returns for themselves and found it hard to understand foreign buyers coming in seeking ever lower returns. Lower expected returns meant higher prices, and many Danes have profited heavily from selling to foreign investors. Yet it is overwhelmingly the residential market that has attracted foreign capital. Other categories of properties have seen a more moderate trend. Denmark was never a big market for offices – around Copenhagen the geographical location always allows for new builds just a few kilometres away, which puts a lid on rents for the benefit of Danish businesses but somewhat to the detriment of property owners. For a while, foreign investors were buying up office and retail properties on Strøget, the main shopping street in Copenhagen, but that market has currently gone cold due to the lack of tourists that most shops make their living from. Finally, like everywhere else in Europe, Denmark has also seen a fair amount of investment in logistics and hotel properties. For the property industry in Denmark, the current situation is not just a matter of making the most of the good times while they are here. Preparing for market conditions to change at some point it also critical, says Martin Vang Hansen, CEO of ATP Ejendomme, one of the biggest property companies in Denmark.

Martin Vang Hansen

“We are seeing capital flows from abroad to the Danish market at a record high, and that’s been the case for some years now. That means expected returns are under pressure. We are obviously thinking that at some point the capital f low from global markets will ease off. Then what? Will there be a slowdown, or will there be a new steady state? We don’t know, and we also don’t know when that might happen. But we do believe we’re at a late stage in the cycle of capital flows and that competition for clients will continue to be strong. So, what we’re putting our efforts into right now is getting really close to our clients to keep them happy – and running our business even more efficiently in terms of things such as digitalisation and prop tech.”

nordic business // 51

ACTORS ON NORWAY’S PROPERTY MARKET HAVE LEARNT TO HANDLE RISK Norway’s economy and exchange rate tend to fluctuate widely with energy prices, which keeps many international investors from entering the country’s property market. But local actors have grown used to risk being part of their world. They make sure to have a wide portfolio – and to keep the faith that even when the last oil taps are switched off, the country’s business sector will still be a dynamic one.

By Sten Thorup Kristensen When the price of oil futures briefly dipped below zero in the spring of 2020, it became a running joke that it might be a good idea to fill up your bath tub at home with oil. That was very much a joke at Norway’s expense. The Covid lockdowns were specifically what triggered the price drop, but with a growing focus on the green transition, one of the world’s leading oil countries also seems to be facing a difficult time coming out of the pandemic. At the time of writing – towards the end of September 2021 – that joke has been turned upside down. Now both gas and power prices are scaling record heights and, economically at least, Norway is facing a good winter with high revenues from both the oil sector and the country’s many hydropower plants. This clearly illustrates what owners of Norwegian properties need to be able to handle: huge variations in their fundamental conditions – not just short term, but possibly even more so in the longer term. Few places in the world have a property sector that faces the same degree of huge opportunities and significant risk in equal amounts. To a large extent, this involves realising that it is more or less impossible to predict what lies beyond the next corner or the corner after that, says Gunnar Gjørtz, managing director of Norways second-biggest property company, KLP Eiendom. “We don’t really work from thinking anything about the future. The KLP group invests in all classes of assets – equities, bonds, lending, infrastructure, property and so on. So, we’re more focused on diversifying our investments than speculating about the future,” Gunnar Gjørtz explains, while stressing that KLP does see positive returns over the longer perspective from real assets such as property. “We’ve seen valuations go up as interest rates have dropped along with a monetary policy that is based on quantitative easing. With ever more capital, an ageing population and a high savings rate, there is reason to believe that interest rates will stay low,” he says.


But risk is something you learn to live with. Compared to a less risk-heavy country – in the Nordic region that would in particular be Denmark – the price per square metre that properties such as offices in Oslo are being sold at may seem jaw dropping. Gunnar Gjørtz takes a different perspective. In his world, Denmark looks rather conservative. “There are far more dynamics happening in Sweden and Norway than in Denmark,” Gjørtz says. And he knows what he is talking about, as KLP Eiendom also owns large office complexes in Copenhagen. Copenhagen has plenty of space to build new offices. That keeps the rents low on office space – if they move too high, there is always someone ready to build something new. Plus, Denmark has rent regulation that motivates tenants to stay where they are, which tends to put a dampener on competition for the best locations.

Gunnar Gjørtz

So, while the office rent in Norway can easily reach some 4,500 kroner per square metre, rents in Denmark rarely go beyond an average of 2,000 kroner. This also affects the valuations on properties. Since a property with a central location in Oslo is more profitable than a similar property in Copenhagen, the price of the Oslo property will clearly tend to be higher. But the return on investment, percentage-wise, for the owners of the two properties will be roughly the same. All of this does not completely compensate for the risk of being so exposed to oil and gas extraction as the Norwegian economy is and, with it, the country’s property sector. But, as Gunnar Gjørtz says: The risk could also involve a much softer scenario than a hard transition period. “The oil industry is important for Norway and if there’s a rapid and brutal phase-out, it will hit the Norwegian economy and Norwegian commercial properties. There’s no doubt about that. Clearly, there THE LARGEST REAL ESTATE will be a transition where COMPANIES we have to move away from Norway oil and into other types of Olav Thon sectors. That could be a challenge for Norway. But KLP Eiendom it’s unlikely to happen all Entra that fast, although some Obos politicians would like to Storebrand see that,” Gunnar Gjørtz Source: Cushman & Wakefield concludes.


nordic business // 52


Photo: Vasakronan, Gustav Kaiser

Some property companies have an abundance of capital to place on the market, thus buying just one or two properties at a time is simply not efficient. Instead they are buying up substantial portfolios and sometimes entire property companies. The return on properties in such huge deals is typically low – but not yet critically low, say commercial real estate advisors Cushman & Wakefield.

By Sten Thorup Kristensen Never have properties in Sweden been bought and sold at such large volumes as in 2021. But on quieter reflection, it is worth asking whether this new record is genuine or whether what is going on is simply happening on a completely different scale – in other words, whether the Swedish real estate industry is shifting to a different dimension. Previously, property deals typically followed from either a seller wanting to release liquidity or a buyer seeking more value from the property than the seller had been able to get. But over the past few years, something else has weighed heavily in the real estate statistics: Swedish property companies have been acquiring each other or bidding on property companies abroad, or buying up substantial portfolios of real estate. The latter phenomenon reached a high point at the end of September when Heimstaden Bostad bought a total of 28,766 rental properties situated in cities across Germany, Sweden and Denmark from previous owner Akelius. The value of this transaction was 92.5 billion Swedish kroner.

”Maybe we will continue to see some buyers who are willing to buy less environmentally friendly assets. However, for the core investors it is becoming imperative to buy sustainable assets.” Michal Toporowski, Analyst with Cushman & Wakefield

Daniel Turner, deputy head of capital markets at commercial property advisors Cushman & Wakefield in Stockholm, says a big part of the story is the amount of capital circulating as a result of the world’s central banks pumping out money at the moment. Since bonds currently carry really low or even negative interest rates, investors are finding it more beneficial to put their money into real estate. That is also to a large extent what appears to be driving investors in the other Nordic countries. But in Sweden the transactions are simply substantially bigger.

pressure to invest are looking for scale. They are seeking alternative routes to deploy their capital and consequently they have been targeting companies,” Daniel Turner explains.

”There is an enormous amount of relatively cheap capital flowing around. We anticipate that 2021 has the potential to be a record year in terms of transaction volumes, therefore there is not a lack of product on the market. However, when compared to the weight of capital in the market, it can be argued there is a lack of product. Larger investors who have

”We conduct a confidence survey among investors every six months. Last year we added sustainability related questions and we have seen a substantial majority of investors listing sustainability certification as an important investment factor. In the latest edition, almost all investors indicated it as important and many of them stated that they have sustain-

Meanwhile, there are of course still a lot of smaller transactions of the traditional kind that is typically triggered by structural changes in society. Two factors in particular are at play here. One of them is a stronger emphasis on ESG – in other words, whether properties are climate friendly.

nordic business // 53

Photo: Linus Mimietz

Michal Toporowski

ability as a formalized investment prerequisite,” says Michal Toporowski, an analyst with Cushman & Wakefield and a colleague of Daniel Turner. In practice, the consequence of this is a lot of older stock being renovated to boost energy efficiency. The question is what to do with properties that cannot be renovated to a modern standard. Climate-wise, simply pulling them down is not a great idea, as building new homes emits even more carbon dioxide. ”Maybe we will continue to see some buyers who are willing to buy less environmentally friendly assets. However, for the core investors it is becoming imperative to buy sustainable assets” Michal Toporowski says. Another structural change relates to retail properties. As in the rest of the Nordics, these are hard times for the industry as a lot of the bricks-and-mortar retail trade is being replaced by internet shopping. In Sweden, this has hit shopping centres on the outskirts of most large towns and cities in particular. But according to Daniel Turner, investors are starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. ”Urban community centres are coming back very strongly. For a while all retail was labelled as risky, but now investors are making the distinction between grocery, discount, high street, urban centres vs regional centres etc,” Daniel Turner says.

Daniel Turner

The trick here is to rethink the urban shopping centres. Some types of shops, such as those selling clothing and textiles, need to go to make space for personal services such as fitness facilities, dentists, other health care providers and local public services. Part of the space should also be converted into housing. All of this means investors having to put a lot of effort into things such as discussing planning permissions with local politicians and authorities. Finally, there is a ghost lurking in the Swedish real estate industry. This has to do with the subject of liberalising the rental mechanism for housing, something that remains a dream for several parties on the right yet a nightmare for those on the left of Sweden’s political spectrum. Just last summer, prime minister Stefan Löfven lost a vote of no confidence triggered by this very subject and formally had to resign, although in reality he did succeed in forming a new government. Yet Cushman & Wakefield do not see this ghost reappearing anytime soon. ”It is an emotional issue and there is an election coming up next year. But we think that most parties will try to leave it alone, because it can cause so much trouble. And there are plenty of other topics to talk about in Swedish politics,” Daniel Turner says. But it is still impossible to get around a discussion of the rental mechanisms in Sweden. Back in 2006 when policy makers wanted to kickstart home building, property developers were allowed to charge rents at something approaching the market level for a period of 15 years. Those 15 years have now passed, and the question is now whether renters will be asking for rent reductions – and if so, whether the Swedish legal system will be on their side.

Sponsored content

nordic business // 54

Ikano Bolig:

BUILDING THE FRAMEWORK FOR LIVING THE GOOD LIFE Sustainability has by now become a completely natural element in almost all types of building work. But when it comes to homebuilding, this is about much more than the materials and processes used. Social sustainability and creating the framework for a comfortable life that helps us engage with others are just as important.

nordic business // 55

Sponsored content

EXPANDING IN THE COPENHAGEN METROPOLITAN AREA Ikano Bolig recently acquired the Danish activities of Swedish housing developer Bonava at the price of 400 million Danish kroner. Bonava was spun off from the Swedish construction company NCC in 2016 and, according to the property news outlet Estate, decided to sell off its activities in the Copenhagen metropolitan area and pull out of the Danish market entirely. Included in the transaction are planning permissions for more than 50,000 square metres of homes, to include some 520 tenant-owned and rental properties in Værløse, Valby and Greve. These are well aligned with Ikano Bolig's plans to expand in the Greater Copenhagen area – an area covered by the so-called Finger Plan that has long been the public urban plan for the development of the Copenhagen metropolitan area. plan is to consolidate in this area before starting to look for suitable locations in other parts of Denmark.

”We have to be relevant to the markets that we enter, and we want to be among the 5 biggest actors within our field.” René Brandt, Managing Director, Ikano Bolig.

By Henrik Malmgreen Responsible homebuilding is about far more than bricks and mortar. It is about sustainability too – and not just the sustainability of climate friendly and environmentally sound building materials: It is about social sustainability. Today’s homes need to be healthy places for both body and mind. At least that is the mantra of Ikano Bolig which has spent the past 4 years building up their presence in Denmark, so far with two housing projects in the Copenhagen suburbs Greve and Hillerød. “We really want to help create the framework for living the good life. I’ve worked in the construction industry for several years and I’ve helped create architecturally really ambitious buildings. But the form only sets the space for life. The form does not create life,” says René Brandt, Managing Director of Ikano Bolig. He has mixed feelings when looking back at some of the past projects that he has been involved in. Inspiring others From the start, the mantra of creating the framework for the good life was part of what set Ikano Bolig apart from other project developers, but today he is happy to see the concept of social sustainability spreading across the homebuilding industry. To put it simply: Homebuilding has a role to play

in helping residents engage with each other, and Ikano Bolig works actively with this idea, not least through a ‘Nærvær concept’ that is implemented in all of its housing projects. “What we do in our housing projects is setting up a café that’s designed to be run by both residents and local volunteers. We also have someone from our organisation participating, so in that way we help give something back,” René Brandt says. He explains that this is, in a way, like giving the building to its local area and that eventually the idea is for the place to find an identity of its own as an independent housing association. Casting a wide net In other words, Ikano Bolig does not follow a “hit-and-run” strategy of just building a project, selling off the homes and moving on as quickly as possible. The company is serious about wanting to give something back to the local area, and that concept is still very unique within the construction sector. It also helps the company be seen as a serious collaborator for local authorities in those areas where Ikano Bolig has active projects. According to René Brandt, the company is now also planning to both build and operate a portfolio of rental homes.

Sponsored content

nordic business // 56

“We want to cast our net as wide as possible. To give an example, we’re not planning to focus narrowly on segments such as residential communities for the elderly. We’d like to work with a mix of different types of homes, appealing as widely as possible to different parts of the population,” René Brandt explains. He reveals that Ikano Bolig has just invested hundreds of millions of Danish kroner in a location in Ballerup on the outskirts of Copenhagen where the company is working on planning permission for a housing project comprising a total of 40,000 square metres of homes. Connecting and feeling safe In part, Ikano Bolig’s projects follow a three-pronged strategy of sustainability. First, the materials need to live up to the standards set for a category of voluntary sustainability that has been established by the Danish government as a pilot project for building projects. Second, the aim is to offer the most financially sustainable and therefore attractive homes in the market. The third part is where the social sustainability mentioned above comes in. “This is why we’re putting a lot of work into involving not just the people who buy or rent our homes, but the entire local area as well. It’s about helping to create connections, connections create a feeling of safety, and when you feel safe, there’s less of a risk of feeling lonely,” René Brandt explains, adding that what helps to create a feeling of shared life in these housing projects is not just the local café but various forms of shared workshop areas too. Our common needs “I regularly pass by some of the grand, ambitious housing projects that I’ve worked on in the past, and often what strikes me is that although they look impressive, they often seem completely empty and deserted by people. So, even the fanciest and boldest homes aren’t always the best by a long stretch,” René Brandt says. He is eager to engage with the social responsibility that is now a fundamental principle in all of the building projects that Ikano Bolig takes on. The concept originally started in Sweden but is equally thriving in Denmark – after all, the Swedish and Danish cultures are not all that different. It could be argued that wanting a good and well-organised home that comes with a sense of community and belonging is something that appeals to us all. In reality, it is what we all want.

A COMPLETELY NATURAL EXPANSION Ikano Bolig has been developing and building homes in Denmark since 2017 and is part of the Ikano Group which comprises a number of industries such as banking, housing, manufacturing, insurance, etc in various countries. Ikano Group was founded by the founder of IKEA and is still owned by the Kamprad family. In Sweden, Ikano Bostad has some 1,500 homes ongoing and owns and rents out 6,000 apartments. As in Denmark, the company seeks to engage as an attractive collaborator for local authorities working actively on urban development. All aspects of sustainability are equally important, and the Managing Director of Ikano Bostad, Robert Jaaniste, says the group is aiming to be carbon neutral by 2030 and for all of its projects to be certified as sustainable. “We have worked extensively across the Øresund region, so it’s been completely natural to step into the Danish property market to help us grow. We also see a lot of similarities between the Swedish and Danish markets, both in terms of where we would like to help with urban development and how we collaborate with local authorities,” Robert Jaaniste says, adding that there are also many similarities when it comes to efforts to boost social sustainability and social responsibility.

nordic business // 57



nordic business // 58

Johanne Skogestig, CEO Vasakronen When Johanne Skogestig took on the position as Chief Executive Chair of Sweden’s, and the Nordic region’s largest real estate company, Vasakronen, in November 2019, she may have believed that her career had reached its peak. For seven years she had managed senior positions in the group, and prior to that she gained experience as an investment manager in several smaller, but significant real estate companies. She was content in her career and took a well-deserved skiing holiday in Austria later in the winter. It was at this time that the world turned upside down as it became clear how serious the covid-19 pandemic was. Fortunately, Skogestig was not among those infected, but upon her return she had to work from home. Vasakronen is owned by the top four (AP) pension funds in Sweden. Its main focus is purchasing and investing predominately in office and retail properties. Amongst their objectives is to establish an ongoing return that is greater than the industry average, and to be perceived as the most desirable employer in the industry. Headquarters: Stockholm Employees: Approx. 293 Rental income 2020: SEK 7.0 billion

Biljana Pehrsson, CEO, Castellum In Swedish management circles, they speak of “The Biljana effect”, named after the Castellum’s Biljana Perhsson, famous for her recent, very public case where she was CEO of the real estate company Kungsledan. When Castellum made a bid to buy Kungsledan recently, they promised Biljana Pehrsson the CEO position of the merged company. She was an only child and in 1970, when she was just four months old, her parents emigrated from Belgrade (present-day Serbia) to Sweden. From a young age, it became clear that she was destined for a great career in the real estate industry, taking some less-travelled paths along the way, including three years in Moscow. In an interview, she pointed out that she had never attended a leadership course. Instead, led by her own intuitions, she followed her instincts and made successful decisions, whether the challenge was the financial crisis, a tax case against Kungsledan, or more recently, the covid-19 pandemic. With the acquisition of Kungsledan, Castellum is by far the leading listed real estate company in the Nordic region. Their portfolio consists of commercial real estate, primarily in major Swedish cities, but throughout the 2010’s the company has also branched out in Copenhagen and Helsinki. Headquarters: Gothenburg and Stockholm Employees: Approx. 400 Revenue 2020: SEK 6.0 billion

nordic business // 59

Ulrika Hallengren, CEO of Wihlborgs Ulrika Hallengren is a leading light in the real estate business and has been working in the industry since a young age. After being involved in many construction projects, she felt it was time for a change. She had already attended a meeting at the new firm, an energy group, when Wihlborg’s former CEO Anders Jarl called her and asked her to manage the construction of a research centre in Lund. She agreed to the position – and a few years later, in 2018, she replaced his position. Here she thrived, without too much inf luence from the general public and as Wihlborg prefers to develop properties themselves, she became a valuable asset to the company. Wihlborg is a listed real estate company focusing on the Öresund Government. The company has properties worth approx. SEK 50 billion in Malmö, Lund Helsingborg and Copenhagen, with future goals of expanding further. Their strategy is to be a market leader in all areas they operate within. Headquarters: Malmö Employees: Approx. 244 Rental income 2020: SEK 3.1 billion

Photographer: Ulla-Carin Ekblom

Louise Lindh, CEO and Board Member of Lundbergs Fatigheter There are many family-owned companies, but there are few that continue to run a growing business themselves. L E Lundbergförtagen is one of those exceptions. CEO, Louise Lindh, is the granddaughter of founder Lars Erik Lundberg, and sits on the board with several family members. It is not the lure of a salary cheque that motivates her; she already holds the 1164th position on Forbes “world’s wealthiest” list. Real estate is the heart and soul of the group of which she co-owns. Originally founded as a construction company, Lars Erik Lundberg later realized that there was a need to supplement the “real estate cycle” and focus on property management. Lundbergs Fastigheter is a predominantly familyowned real estate company with assets of approx. SEK 25 billion. Headquarters: Norrköping Employees: Approx. 170 Rental income 2020: SEK 1.5 billion

nordic business // 60

Rikke Lykke, CEO of DEAS Group

In August 2021, Rikke Lykke was hired as Chief Executive of the DEAS group. Her task was to expand the Danish company throughout the Nordic region, which she accomplished due to her experience in this field. In 2012, she was hired by the German real estate company Patrizia, to grow its Nordic organization. Patrizia became a very successful buyer in the Nordic region over the years. Rikke was promoted six years later to lead the group’s activities in German-speaking countries. She soon climbed the corporate ladder, and eventually served in key group functions. In an interview with “”, she mentioned that the organization had become so self-sufficient that she reached a point where she could go no further within the company as there

were no more challenges. Rikke Lykke has also engaged i n orga n i z at iona l work i n t he t r ade a s soc iat ion “EjendomDanmark”. DEAS has a reputation of being one of Denmark’s largest property management companies, which today provides a full service to customers, including for example, asset management and investment advice. Headquarters: Frederiksberg Employees: approx. 900 Revenue 2020: DKK 658 million

nordic business // 61

Solveig Rannje, Property Manager, Velliv

Solveig Rannje became a household name in the Danish real estate industry when she was Property Director of SEB Pension for six years in the 2010’s. SEB Pension was one of the pension industry’s smaller players, compared to the PFA where she had previously worked for 15 years. Her employment at SEB Pension came at a time when the property industry needed to recover from the financial crisis, when it was important to monitor the pension industry and know how best to invest the available funds in order to make good returns. When Danica purchased SEB Pension in 2018, Solveig took on the position as Partner and Property Director of the Thylander group. However, she only stayed in this position for approximately a year, after which she went back to the pension business as a property manager and is now employed at one of the largest and most successful companies in the industry, namely Velliv. Velliv is Denmark’s third largest pension company, previously known as “Nordea Liv & Pension”, who sold the homeowners’ association, Velliv, thereby effectively making the company customer-owned. This process was completed in 2019 which has since lead to significant lucrative returns. Headquarters: Ballerup Employees: Approx. 600 Revenue premium 2020: DKK 27 billion

Christina Jørgensen, CEO, Freja Real Estate

The position of CEO, at the state-owned real estate company Freja, may not be the highest profile position in the Danish real estate industry, but one could well argue that it is the most exciting. Here Christina Jørgensen had firsthand information as to which properties became available after the restructuring of the public sector, leaving many gems in between. One of her first projects after she took on the position on 1st June 2021, was to sell Jernbanebyen, a collection of beautiful old workshops and labourers’ cottages, located in the middle of Copenhagen which until recently were unknown to many. Christina Jørgensen is a structural engineer and for six years she was responsible for project developments in the construction company MT Højgaard, before becoming an independent construction consultant. Whilst being an atypical background for a CEO, proving successful in this position at Freja certainly made other major companies in the industry take note. Freja Real Estate is a state-owned company that is responsible for developing and selling established properties that agencies and other public institutions have in surplus. It must be economically viable, but at the same time be sustainable in all areas, including architecturally. Headquarters: Frederiksberg Employees: 26 Net sales 2020: DKK 770 million

nordic business // 62

Sonja Horn, CEO, Entra

There is both a visionary and a conservative approach to property – with respect for the fact that great social values are being managed. As chief executive of Entra since 2019, Sonja Horn has spanned both approaches. For example, she and the company were pioneers in working proactively with sustainability. Despite such groundbreaking initiatives, she, the company, and the stock are probably best known for their stability and credibility. Earlier this year, the company defended a hostile acquisition attempt by the Swedish Castellum. Sonja Horn started her career in banking, which soon brought her into contact with the real estate industry, a direction she further developed in Statoil (now Equinor), where she was responsible for parts of the property portfolio, before joining Entra in 2013. Entra is a listed real estate company specializing in office properties in Norway’s four largest cities. The primary customers are public institutions. The company has a high equity capital, with only 40% of their property values being mortgaged. Headquarters: Oslo Employees: 175 Rental income 2020: NOK 2.4 billion

Camilla Krogh, Director, Ferd Eiendom

In early 2020, Camilla Krogh represented many Scandinavian ideals and visions, many ref lected in her job. Since taking office last year as CEO of Ferd Eiendom, she has been responsible for developing the company’s grand old properties in Oslo, not least with a focus on sustainability, including the well-being of the properties’ occupants. Cooperation is her key focus. This is something she learnt from being part of a handball team in her youth, which was something she had to put aside when she needed to focus on her career in the construction and real estate industry. As the saying goes “Out with the old, in with the new”. Ferd Eiendom is the property branch of the Ferd Group, which is owned by one of Norway’s wealthiest men, Johan Henrik Andresen, who has two daughters. The company was formerly known as “Tiedemanns group” and originally also traded in tobacco products, with this division of the company being sold in 2005. Headquarters: Oslo Employees (group): 75 Value of properties 2020: NOK 14.3 billion

nordic business // 63

Grete Aspelund, CEO, SWECO Norway

Realigning one’s expectations is important to Grete Aspelund, which she reiterated in an interview with DN, preparing her future employees’ expectations, before joining Sweco’s Norwegian branch in 2016. She can be quite temperamental but controls her emotions in public. Clearly, her commitment to this large, diverse company is important. With many branches spread over the country, activities are varied. Recently, Grete Aspelund has had to deal with crises. On top of the low oil prices that hit the Norwegian economy, she has had to contend with the covid-19 crisis. She still however managed to end 2020 with a profit.

Sweco is an architectural and engineering consulting firm with operations in 13 European countries. The Norwegian division is based on an acquired company with a 100-year history. The company specializes in many fields including buildings, facilities and infrastructure, such as bridges. Headquarters: Oslo Employees: Approx. 1800 Revenue 2020: NOK 2.473 million

nordic business // 64


nordic business // 65

Now Time to Fly!

On 23rd September 2021, the Danish Business Travel Association (DBTA) hosted its 50th anniversary conference at The Hangar, Clarion Hotel, Copenhagen Airport. Over 200 attendees from roles in the supplier and buyer side of the travel industry discussed the current ‘state of play’ of business travel and forecasts for the future. Here, Anne Mette Berg, General Manager, DBTA provides an overview of the measured optimism voiced at the event.

Anne Mette Berg, General Manager, DBTA Photos: Mads Gregersen, 3 Wise Monkeys

Business Travel was almost non-existant during the Covid-19 pandemic. Within a few days, most industries related to the travel, transportation, tourism/experience industries ground to a halt. Whilst we cannot yet predict how the industry will look 2-5 years from now, we fortunately can now see that business travel is coming back. GBTA | Global Business Travel Association sends a poll to all its members worldwide once or twice a month. The latest poll highlights that there are clear signs of a recovery, albeit slow, although there is still also uncertainty around the impact of covid variants such as the Delta variant. Some companies in the Nordics do still have a travel ban in force, or only allow ‘business critical’ travel. However, recently there has also been good news as many companies now say,

“let’s travel thoughtfully/responsibly”. Travelling domestically, within the Nordics, and inside Europe is getting better every day. There are more people in the airports and more fully booked f lights – especially within the Nordics. There are still regulations meaning that we must wear facemasks in most airports and while flying, but even these appear to possibly disappear soon. Most countries have international Corona passports, and it is no problem getting a test throughout the Nordic countries. However, there is still a difference in pricing policies in this area; in Denmark for example all tests are free, while in Finland you have to pay. In late September, the USA announced that it is now reopening to vaccinated travellers from Europe, triggering great optimism among airlines and many other travel-related industries.

nordic business // 66

The value of the in-person meeting can never be underestimated, and never goes out of fashion. The feeling of being together in the same room is still what drives many of us.

DBTA Conference, September 2021 ; The Hangar, Clarion/Comfort CPH.

New research from Nordic Bench shows that Africa, South America and Middle East are low down on the list of areas that people expect to travel to. The same research also predicts that many companies expect airline prices to go up, while hotels, meetings & events prices are expected to stay the same or decrease a little. The Nordic Business Travel Association asked our Buyer members in September what they expected: • 14% expect that travel will not restart until 2022 • 50% have lifted their travel ban since we asked the same questions in May 2021 • 46% have started to book smaller meetings and 16% have started to book larger meetings • 65% say that their travel policy has been changed during the pandemic We also asked a few DBTA members last week what trends they think are on the way : “Meetings do not (always) have to be physical and for a long period we will see less travel activity - in return, I believe that there will be a boost for private travel, regardless of whether sustainability is high on the agenda.” “Fewer business travellers means less revenue. It increases the pressure on airlines that need to adjust their business models to become competitive.” “Sustainability in the broadest sense will change. “We are what we measure” - but right now we do not have all the tools we want to be able to measure what we want. But it will come and the results and figures will give us the benchmark on which we will act ; as a society, as companies and consumers - both within B2B and B2C.”

What have we learned? Work-life balance will probably become Life-work balance. In the Nordics a lot of companies have experienced that working from home is effective and here to stay. Maybe not applicable to all days of the week, but many talk about 2-3 days at the office and the rest of the week working at home. In Denmark, several companies are even experimenting with a 4-day working week. But how about business travel? Will we stay at home and keep going with digital meetings? It is still early days and perhaps it will take a few years until we know. Sustainability is high on the agenda of many companies, so I believe that there will be a transformation of how we meet in the future. We have become very familiar with digital meetings very quickly, and technology in this area is becoming more and more advanced. Virtual reality, virtual training, intuitive cameras, drones etc. all give us great opportunities to reduce travel whilst still getting in touch with people all over the world. The value of the in-person meeting however can never be underestimated, and never goes out of fashion. The feeling of being together in the same room is still what drives many of us. So, let’s take another look in 2-3 years and see how things have developed. I trust that we will still travel and meet, maybe not as much as we did before the pandemic, but in a more thoughtful way.

Anne Mette Berg, General Manager, DBTA / Lotten Fowler, General Manager, SBTA / Catherine Logan, Regional VP EMEA, GBTA.

Do you want to reduce your carbon footprint? As the leading car rental company for green cars in Scandinavia, we are here to help. With Avis Go Green we want to enable you to choose a greener alternative when renting a car. Our green fleet emits less harmful particles, which is good for both your health and the environment. Choose Avis Go Green next time you need to rent a car and be guaranteed a low emission vehicle. No matter if you want the 100% electric option or one of our brilliant Plug-In hybrid cars, we have something in store for you. Our green fleet is bookable in all booking channels - including your travel agency.



Photo Credit: Ystad Saltsjöbad

nordic business // 69

nordic business // 70


Lydmar opened its doors in 2008 and consist of 46 uniquely styled rooms. The hotel serves as a venue for art exhibitions, live music and lifestyle events. It is an ease of freshness in combination with a contemporary classic look, featuring culture, top quality and strong personal impressions to create the added value of belonging. Lydmar Hotel is a great choice for the overnight stay or the business traveler who is passing by Stockholm on the move to the next destination.

All the rooms are designed with a contemporary classic look and each room has its own personal touch. No rooms look the same. The beds are equipped with bed linen from Xinjiang in China with advantageous natural conditions for growing cottons.

The staff possess local knowledge about what’s happening in the town, which will suit those who want to “live” during their stay and are used to top service and relaxed elegancy.


nordic business // 71

For the business traveler there are comfortable opportunities for writing late night emails in the room.

The Dining Room is a vibrant and relaxed place where you will find yourself among locals and hotel cosmopolitans alike. With the distinctive and homely atmosphere of a warm and welcoming living room, this place makes you feel right at home.

All the rooms have carefully selected design and art features. The size of the rooms vary from 20-50 sqm. with King or Twin beds.

nordic business // 72


Tjuvholmen (Thief Islet) used to be a haven for smugglers, thieves and scoundrels. Today it is home to THE THIEF, a modern hideaway – right in the middle of downtown Oslo. THE THIEF has filled this retreat with top international art pieces, carefully selected designer furniture, global Nordic cuisine, top quality spa and cosmopolitan bars.

Before arriving at the hotel, guests can choose if they would like a personal or mobile check-in service. The latter comes in the form of a hotel staff member checking guests in via iPad on the way to their room, or the quick variation with self-check-in using the hotel’s own app.

Each of the 114 rooms are characterised by their individuality. Be it through the handpicked artwork, furnishings from world-renowned designers, or the latest technology, a timeless elegance comes together with cosmopolitan flair throughout the hotel. All the rooms have monumental glass facades to take advantage of the view and to let in as much daylight as possible.

There are 6 stylish boardrooms and meeting rooms all of which provide discreet and comfortable venues. It might also be the perfect setting for a private screening or an intimate meal of exquisite Norwegian cuisine and wines from around the world.

Not only established as an art hub in the city, Tjuvholmen has become a food destination. Four of Oslo’s top ten restaurants can be found on this island, and THE THIEF’s restaurant THIEF FOODBAR has joined the ranks. Putting a spin on conscious cooking and Norwegian cuisine, head chef David Taylor has kept a strong focus on regional, local and organic ingredients.

The 100-seat space is divided into private zones, creating intimate and unpretentious table settings with the option of a chambre séparée for a long table seating up to 16 people.


nordic business // 73

nordic business // 74


Scandinavian design traditions and Moorish aesthetics are magically united at the Nimb. A luxurious boutique hotel, featuring 38 unique guest bedrooms and suites where focus on details, the personal experience and unparalleled quality are paramount. All guests at the hotel always have free access to the Tivoli Gardens as well as access to Nimb Roof.

The age difference between Nimb Hotel’s new and old wings is 108 years. But there’s no difference in terms of standard: The awardwinning hotel, which has expanded from 17 to 38 rooms, still offers the highest quality throughout.

French favorites ser ved for breakfast, lunch and dinner with a breathtaking view of Tivoli. Nimb’s largest restaurant attracts both hotel guests and locals, who enjoy a great meal in beautiful yet informal surroundings.

nordic business // 75


Elegant rooms with crispy luxury bedlinen and spacious bat hrooms w it h lu x u r y beauty products.

Open fireplaces are found in 14 of the rooms. All rooms and suites are decorated in contemporary style, where simple Nordic design is combined with classical art and beautiful antiquities.

On the roof of the hotel, part of the 1,300 square metres of roof terrace is reserved for Nimb guests, who have access to a swimming pool, bar and sun terrace.

Photo by Tamas Kolossa on Unsplash

nordic business // 76


nordic business // 77


Shirt in cotton with wide stripe. Slim fit. Pointed collar. Rounded and adjustable sleeve cuffs. Shaped bottom hem Price EUR 99,-


Coat in wool-blend. Slim fit. Mid-thigh length. Notched lapel. Three-button closure. Slanted welt pockets. Kissing buttons at cuffs. Single vent at back. Fully lined. Price EUR 449,-


Chelsea boot in leather. Elastic inserts at sides. Full leather interior. Full rubber outsole with combat grip. Price EUR 239,-


Blazer in wool stretch. Slim fit. Slightly wider notch lapel. Two-button closure. Straight jetted pockets. Single welt pocket at chest. Side vents at back. Fully lined. Premium quality fabric from renowned Italian weaver Marlane. Price EUR 399,-


nordic business // 78

Photo by Raimond Klavins on Unsplash


nordic business // 79


Blazer in bi-stretch wool blend. Slim fit. Hip length. Notch lapel. Single-button closure. Double welt pockets at front. Felt underneath collar. Fully lined. Price EUR 329,-


Dress in printed cupro. Regular fit. Below-knee length. Concealed zip closure at back. Pleats at neck, waist and shoulder. Long sleeves with button closure. Pin hem at bottom hem. Unlined. Price EUR 249,-


Shirt in viscose jacquard. All-over seasonal tiger pattern. Regular fit. Below-hip length. Classic button collar. Long sleeves with buttoned cuffs. Yoke and pleats at back. Price EUR 169,-


Ankle boot in leather. Full goat leather interior. Leather outsole with rubber insert. Heel height: 6 cm. Price EUR 399,-


nordic business // 80

BEST NORDIC TECH & REAL ESTATE PODCASTS DENMARK TECHTOPIA (DK) Techtopia (produced by IDA) How do we design the future? Techtopia is a weekly podcast on technology, start-ups and research. The podcast is hosted by the former DR host from P1’s Harddisken, Henrik Føhns and serves 30 minutes of insights to digitization, artificial intelligence, nano, bio and the 4th industrial revolution.

EJENDOMSINVESTOREN (DK) This podcast, Ejendomsinvestoren, addresses various investment strategies, the financial cycle, the mindset of the skilled investor, as well as vital details about loan structures, negotiations, lead generation, legal documents and much more. The podcast is hosted by Lars Horsbøl who besides also hosting the podcasts Fremtidsfabrikken & PropTech Denmark, is the CEO of the Danish Proptech company Resigths.

nordic business // 81

SWEDEN FASTIGHETSPRINSEN (S) In the podcast Fastighetsprinsen you can follow real estate agents and investors from Norway and Sweden as they share their tips and experiences. The podcast is hosted by its founder, Karl Erik Daniel Öberg Hallin. Each episode is released weekly and lasts about 1 hour. The guests’ profiles range widely from youtube stars to more prominent business profiles, but what they all have in common is their passion and knowledge of real estate investment, which they share and talk about in each episode.

DIGITALPODDEN (S) Digitalpodden (published by Dagens Industri) Digitalpodden is a weekly podcast focusing on the Swedish startup scene, venture capital and the digital business ideas that are taking the business world by storm. The podcast is hosted in rotation by journalists Mattias Knutson, Marianne Agazzi, Ida Hansson Brusewitz. Jonas Leijonhufvud and Henrik Ek.

NORWAY TEKNOLOGI OG MENNESKER (N) Teknologi og mennesker (Produced by Oslo Business Forum & Atea) This podcast has collected the best examples of technology and digitization, in Norway. How did they do it and what can we learn from them?

nordic business // 82

BEST NORDIC BUSINESS BOOKS DENMARK Bobler, Bullshit og Børsfest, by Lars Tvede This book, written by Lars Tvede, is a concise and entertaining guide to investing in the stock market in times of crisis. Lars Tvede sold all his shares the day before the corona crisis seriously affected the international stock market. He made a lot of money by re-purchasing the shares at their lowest price when the stock market had reached rock bottom, just a few weeks later. When the market stabilized again over the summer, Lars Tvede had made a very lucrative profit. How could he predict market movements? What did his 40 years of experience and knowledge from the stock market teach him, and how did he manage to make such rational decisions instead of panicking. He explains this with simple and informative chapters conveying his most important messages and principles around investing in stocks. At the same time, Lars Tvede also shares a number of humorous anecdotes about his greatest stock triumphs and his biggest and most valuable mistakes over time.

“An excellent book”, Berlingske

nordic business // 83

SWEDEN Kreativ Friktion, by Magnus Lindkvist & Jan Gradval Author and journalist, Jan Gradvall and futurologist, Magnus Lindkvist have written a handbook for entrepreneurs, artists and visionaries which aims to motivate oneself into innovation. It is a book about creating something out of nothing. It’s a book about resistance and opposites ; about the creative friction. What is not visible, but which is almost always behind the results. Behind the overused and blunted word creativity about creating and thinking new, a whole world of anecdotes that show how people have succeeded in finding something new. In film, philosophy, business, art, music, technology, science and everything else that makes up civilization. Some have worked alone, others on a team. Sometimes with friends, and even with people they dislike. Some have taken their time, maybe decades, or the creation has taken place in a matter of seconds. In common, they have always encountered headwinds and challenges along the way, especially feelings of self-doubt, and at some point, have been both mocked and laughed at.

NORWAY Appenes planet, by Thomas Hylland Erksen Smartphones control our everyday life. (If you can imagine it, the app exists) What you do not get in an app does not exist. In return, you get access to an infinite universe of knowledge, communication channels, services and distractions. In just a few years, the smartphone has made the world smaller, yet bigger, closer yet more distant, fun yet boring. Life has become freer yet more controlled, more social yet more antisocial, while we are both smarter and dumber. It is a global, digital revolution that is unparalleled. With characteristic commitment and curiosity, Thomas Hylland Eriksen takes us on a journey of discovery in the world of the smartphone. A map is drawn along the way. If we are not to become enslaved by the mobile phone, it is necessary to understand it, in order to take life, control and not least time back.

“Hylland Eriksen has written a brilliant book for anyone who wants to look up and try to understand how the smartphone has changed our lives. “ Marius Wulfberg, Dagbladet

Electrify your off road driving. The new Taycan Cross Turismo. Cover long distances effortlessly with the fully electric Taycan Cross Turismo. The Performance Battery Plus provides a driving range of up to 456 kilometers and can be charged (DC) from 5% to 80% in 22.5 minutes with an 800-volt architecture. With up to 625 horsepower and a four-wheel drive the fully electric Taycan Cross Turismo is favored in low-traction situations like off roading. The adaptive air suspension makes your ride extra comfortable. Read more about Taycan Cross Turismo at

Porsche Center Aarhus Grenåvej 347, 8240 Risskov, Aarhus Tel. +45 96 911 911 Porsche Center København Banevingen 6, 2200 København N Tel. +45 46 911 911

Taycan Turbo S Cross Turismo. Electric consumption, combined (WLTP): 26,4-24,4 kWh/100 km; CO2-emissions, combined: 0 g/km. The vehicle is shown with optional equipment.

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.