In 2007, Sweden was the largest private equity market in Europe, as a percentage of the country’s GDP. And the local banks lent freely, as elsewhere, to fund investments. Now they, and other Nordic banks, are struggling to minimise their losses.
According to Bloomberg, Sweden’s second-biggest bank, Handelsbanken, “seized parts of Plastal Group and Plastal Holding AB on July 2, after a cash infusion from Stockholm-based private equity firm Nordic Capital failed to save the plastic-parts maker from bankruptcy”.
75-year old Plastal had sales of €1.3bn in 2007, and 6000 employees in 10 countries. But since then, it has been badly hit by the downturn in its core automotive market. Now “Handelsbanken, which loaned the company 2.1 billion kronor, plans to merge Plastal’s Belgian, Norwegian and Swedish units into a new company”.
Sadly, Plastal is unlikely to be the only company whose ownership moves from private equity to their bankers, as the downturn continues.