Russian money flows in to Finland

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The Arctech shipyard in Helsinki is part-owned by Russians. (Arctech Helsinki Shipyard)
The Arctech shipyard in Helsinki is part-owned by Russians. (Arctech Helsinki Shipyard)

Russian investors have been in the spotlight since the Helsinki Arena was sold to new Russian owners, with the venue’s main tenants Jokerit ice hockey club now planning to move to Russia’s Continental Hockey League (KHL) in 2014. Comprehensive figures on the value of Russian investments are not available, but estimates range from the hundreds of millions into the billions.

Russian investments in Finland have grown in number over a short period of time. The energy firm Rosatom’s possible purchase of a 34 percent stake in the Finnish power company Fennovoima would make it one of the largest investments by a Russian company in Finland. That stake, if purchased, could be worth up to three billion euros.

Finnish companies operating in Russia are much more common than Russian firms that have ventured into Finland, but there is some interest from across the eastern border.

“Russian businesses seek markets abroad,” says Matti Anttonen , who serves as Under-Secretary of State responsible for external economic relations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. ”Maybe strategies are being considered in a new way. I believe investment here will continue.”

He reminds those wary of Russian purchases of Finnish property that Finns are most likely to begin seeking investment opportunities in neighbouring countries.

Big employers

At the moment one of the most significant Russian operators in Finland is the petrol company Teboil, which is owned by the Russian oil giant Lukoil. Teboil’s turnover last year was some two and a half billion euros.

Another substantial Russian operation in Finland is Norilsk Nickel, which is among other things a big shareholder in the Talvivaara mine. The company’s Harjavalta plant employs some 270 people.

The Arctech shipyard in Helsinki is another example of Finnish-Russian co-operation: Russian investors own half of that venture. Russia’s gas giant Gazprom is also active in Finland, owning a quarter of the Finnish firm Gasum.

Although there are no reliable statistics on Russian investments in Finland, estimates range from a few hundred million into the billions. The figure for Finnish investments in Russia is around 12 billion euros.

Anttonen believes trade between the two countries is a positive for Finland, bringing jobs and investment.

”With their help Finland does better,” notes Anttonen. ”At least we hope that Finland is an attractive investment target.”

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