Clarify role of state investor: Finland minister

State investor Solidium doubled the government's stake in the troubled Talvivaara mine last week. (Heikki Rönty / Yle)
State investor Solidium doubled the government’s stake in the troubled Talvivaara mine last week. (Heikki Rönty / Yle)

Heidi Hautala, Finland’s minister responsible for state-owned entities, wants to clarify the role of the state investment company Solidium. She said that Solidium is in an awkward position, since its role as an owner of state-owned companies may involve taking public positions on matters that involve sensitive internal information. Hautala’s comments followed Solidium’s increase in its stake in the troubled mining company Talvivaara.

Last week the state-run investment company Solidium took advantage of a share issue by the beleaguered Talvivaara to double the government’s stake in the mining company. Solidium now controls 17 percent of Talvivaara shares, making it the company’s largest single shareholder.

According to Heidi Hautala, the minister responsible for state ownership, it’s now time to reshape the position of the government investor.

In an interview with the daily Helsingin Sanomat, Hautala said that Solidium’s position in the government’s ownership programme is not necessarily practical.

“The current ownership model cannot avoid taking public positions on matters that are really Solidium’s internal affairs. The Talvivaara catastrophe is one example of this,” Hautala said.

Hautala said she also wanted to see more dialogue between the government and Solidium. The role of the company chairman is to provide the government with updates on major investment decisions in the pipeline.

“The dialogue could be more systematic than it is now,” the minister added.

On Monday Hautala had criticised Solidium’s actions in the Talvivaara case, saying that the government investor should engage in serious reflection, since Talvivaara could not by any means be considered a good investment.

“In the spring of 2011, when the first investment was made in Talvivaara, it would perhaps have been better to predict the risks,” she told Yle Monday.

The current chairman of the board of Solidium is veteran businessman Pekka Ala-Pietilä. Solidium manages investments in 11 stock-exchange listed state-owned companies.

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