SWEDEN: Economic crisis brings Vin & Sprit privatisation forward – report

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The privatisation of Swedish state-owned alcohol concern Vin & Sprit has been brought forward as an indirect result of the US sub-prime mortgage crisis, Swedish media has reported.

State-owned mortgage lender SBAB was next on the list of the Conservative government's SEK200bn (US$31.88bn) sell-off of state assets, but a global credit squeeze has scuppered the sale, bringing Vin & Sprit's privatisation to the front of the queue, the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper said today (14 November).

The government is falling short, in the first year of the programme, of its aim of SEK50bn a year in revenue from the sales and Vin & Sprit, which analysts estimate is worth around US$6bn, would easily make up the shortfall. The sale has attracted interest from Fortune Brands, Pernod Ricard, Bacardi and Diageo.

A Swedish finance ministry spokesman told just-drinks that it would not comment on the reports.

The Government has struggled to organise its privatisation programme. Private bank Carnegie quit as advisers to the government after an insider trading scandal erupted and the Government committee in charge of the privatisation programme is looking for a new chair after the previous one resigned.

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