Finnish government cuts Neste interest

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Finland’s government has sold 5% of its stake in Neste, Reuters reports.

The Government, described by Reuters as ‘centre-right’, sold the 5% stake in the oil refiner and biofuel company for €861 million.

The Finnish state’s stake in Neste has now fallen to 44.7%. Opposition parties have apparently criticised the decision, saying that it gives up too much control in the company.

“The logic of the sale is rather confusing. There is really no need to sell the shares and lose common ownership, they could instead borrow cheap money,” lawmaker Sirpa Paatero from the opposition Social Democrats told Reuters.

However, the government says the decision was made so it could capitalise on the stock’s recent performance while maintaining a strong grip on the company.

“The state will continue to be a significant shareholder of the company, which will, among other things, ensure the strategic interest relating to the ownership,” Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintila said in a statement.

In 2016, the Government passed a law giving it a mandate to cut the state’s previously controlling stake in Neste from 50.1% to 33.4%, a move which also reduced its voting rights in the business.

Earlier this year, the Government of Finland donated €50 million of its shares to a children’s charity.

According to Reuters, there are currently no plans to cut the Finnish Government’s stake in Neste any further.