1/30/14, "Goldman Deal Threatens Danish Government," NY Times Dealbook, Danny Hakim
|Dec. 10, 2013, AFP Getty|
"When Denmark gave the global financial giant Goldman Sachs the go-ahead on Thursday to buy a stake in its state utility, the move was not exactly followed by a celebratory signing ceremony....
Under the terms of the deal, Goldman would invest about $1.45 billion for an 18 percent stake in Dong Energy, the state utility, which has become a green energy exemplar in its push for electricity from wind turbines. Though the deal buys far from a controlling share, the minority stake would come with special privileges..
Goldman would get a seat on the utility’s board. And the bank, along with two Danish pension funds, would have veto power over changes in the utility’s strategy or its executive suite — specifically the utility’s chief executive or chief financial officer. The Danish pension funds are investing about $550 million.
Among the questions about the deal is whether it is being structured to avoid taxes. Goldman’s investment will be made through a company based in Luxembourg. Danish Broadcasting has reported that shares in the Luxembourg company are partly owned by entities based in the Cayman Islands and Delaware....
So divided was the Socialist People’s Party that it withdrew its ministers from the country’s governing coalition. Some party members said the deal ceded too much power to Goldman. Annette Vilhelmsen, the party’s leader, who supported the deal, stepped down from her leadership role since she could not reach agreement within her party.
The party’s withdrawal from the coalition left the government of Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the prime minister, with a tenuous grip on power.
That so many Danes have been aghast at the idea of giving Goldman Sachs a prominent role in the country’s energy future reflects how far the damage to the investment bank’s reputation has spread since the financial crisis.
However much the financial world might envy Goldman’s trading prowess, many Danes see Goldman as an emblem of an industry that helped cause the crisis and then profited handsomely even as much of the Continent still struggles to recover.
Thousands of people have taken to the streets in recent weeks to protest the deal; a prominent banner featured the vampire squid that critics have come to embrace as a symbol of Goldman Sachs. Nearly 200,000 Danes signed an online petition against the deal, a record.
The deal was approved on Thursday by a parliamentary committee. The departure of the Socialists left the two remaining parties in a precarious position....Dong Energy has a number of businesses, but it is perhaps best known of late for its leading role in building offshore wind farms. Dong also drills for oil and gas in the North Sea, has about one million gas and electric customers and operates coal and biomass power plants....
On Wednesday, an estimated 4,000 people gathered in front of Parliament to protest the deal. A few supporters also turned up, including Rasmus Jarlov, a member of the Copenhagen City Council and the Conservative Party.
During an interview, he was hit by a snowball, and later, he and three other conservatives were attacked by protesters....
But Prime Minister Thorning-Schmidt, who is best known internationally for her recent “selfie” with President Obama at the funeral of Nelson Mandela, said she would form a new government. The two remaining parties in the coalition government, her Social Democrats and the Social Liberal party, hold about a third of the seats in the Parliament. The Socialists said they would still support the coalition in parliamentary votes. The governing coalition is also backed by a far left party.
“It is quite an odd day in the Danish Parliament, considering one of the three parties that was in the government has left,” Benny Engelbrecht, a Social Democratic lawmaker, said in an interview. He said the departure of the Socialist People’s Party “was over a number of things, but inspired by this.”"...Image above, 12/10/13, " (R) and British Prime Minister David Cameron pose for a picture with Denmark’s Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt (C) next to US First Lady Michelle Obama (R) during the memorial service of South African former president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium (Soccer City) in Johannesburg on December 10, 2013....