Electing the right people to boards is important

Friday 16 September 2016

Stjernholm Helena 8.jpg

Globalisation impacts sectors and companies in different ways. But no one can avoid its effects. “It’s important to address this,” said Helena Stjernholm, CEO of Industrivärden.

Digitalisation is one of the trends that must be integrated into a company’s business logic and operations. The same applies to sustainability.


“Digitalisation is breaking through everywhere. The transport sector is one example,” said Helena Stjernholm at a breakfast meeting at IVA. Global developments affect all businesses, regardless of whether they are old traditional companies or recent start-ups.“Some small businesses set their sights on the global market right from the start. This did not happen just a few decades ago.”


For Industrivärden long-term active ownership, without paying too much attention to individual quarterly reports, is important. “But even if we do take a long-term approach, we still need to analyse how changes in the world impact our companies.”
She pointed out that it is important, once all the analysis is on the table, to focus on the things they can really impact.


“It’s about identifying opportunities and focusing our energy where we are competitive and can win.” While the interest rate situation – with zero or minus interest rates – makes it cheap to loan money, it’s harder to generate returns.
“I have my doubts about minus interest rates. There was never anything like this in the text books before.”


Active, long-term ownership – something that distinguishes Industrivärden – involves focusing energy on nomination committee work and the boards of the companies in which it owns a share. “We are a minority owner – the biggest one for sure – in the eight large Swedish corporations in our portfolio. That’s why it’s so important who is elected to serve on the boards.”


Industrivärden’s holdings include companies as diverse as AB Volvo, Skanska and ICA. But owning large companies that are also Swedish means that it is essential to have a sector mix, including construction, steel, banking and telecom etc. Due to the geographical limitation, Industrivärden’s 20 employees have a good overview of all of the important Nordic companies.


“We compare the progress of our companies and how they are doing on the stock market in general. But it is paramount for us to increase the value of the companies’ material assets. We are, after all, managing other people’s money.”
Helena Stjernholm is in charge of Industrivärden’s investment division which, she pointed out, has substantial resources.

“But we also bring our knowledge, experience and commitment to the companies we work with,” she said.

Author: Per Rönnberg