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Sweden could lift state ownership in large companies due to virus crisis - finance minister

FILE PHOTO: Swedish Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson speaks to media in Harpsund, Sweden August 24, 2017. REUTERS/Anna Ringstrom

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - The Swedish government could increase its holdings in large companies should they need taxpayer capital to ride out the economic slump due to the coronavirus pandemic, Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson said in a newspaper interview on Monday.

The centre-left government has launched a raft of measures in support of the economy since the coronavirus crisis hit, for example through loan guarantees, though it has so far not moved to introduce outright capital injections to struggling firms.

Andersson told daily Dagens Nyheter that while the government was not in a position to take on ownership in the many smaller firms facing difficulties, doing so for larger corporations was a possibility.

“... if we are dealing with fewer and larger companies, that is a possible route to take,” she was quoted as saying.

“That is how we usually do things in Sweden. The taxpayer takes on a risk and should have the opportunity to be in on the recovery, when it comes, and be able to recoup some of the money.”

Andersson also said that it could anger taxpayers if companies receiving state support were at the same time making large dividends to shareholders.

Reporting by Niklas Pollard; editing by Johannes Hellstrom

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