April unemployment at 8.8%
Helsinki, May 7 (YLE)
The unemployment rate in Finland declined slightly in April to 8.8%, down from March, but still higher than a year previously.
According to Statistics Finland, April unemployment stood at 8.8%. In March the figure was 9%. In April 2012, it was 8.4%.
Figures from the Ministry of Employment and the Economy show that there were around 40,000 more unemployed job seekers in April than there were one year previously.
The rate of unemployment among men last month was 10.2% and among women 7.3%
Jolla to sell new phone this year
Helsinki, May 7 (YLE)
A mobile firm founded by former Nokia employees is set to put a new smartphone on sale by the end of the year. The company, Jolla, was set up to continue working on an open source Linux-based smartphone when Nokia announced it was switching to the Windows Phone operating system.
The new device will run Jolla's Sailfish software, supports 4G connections, features a 4.5 inch screen, has 16g of internal memory and has an eight megapixel camera.
It is expected to retail at just under 400 euros, and should be compatible with apps designed for Android phones.
The phone is based on the Meego operating system that was shelved by Nokia in favour of closer co-operation with Microsoft. As the software comes from the open source Linux code, it got a second life as part of the Mer project. Jolla's workforce expect to produce successors to this first model.
"This will be a weak story, if we only produce one phone," Managing Director Tomi Pienimäki told Yle. "I can't tell anything concrete about our plans, but of course there are goals for us to release more phones than just this first one."
Growing discontent surfaces at Nokia annual meeting
Helsinki, May 7 (YLE)
Shareholders in Finland's biggest company worry that time is running out for the company to make a turnaround.
Nokia CEO Stephen Elop faced disgruntled shareholders at Tuesday’s annual general meeting at the Helsinki Fair Centre. Many expressed dissatisfaction with the firm’s weakness compared to smartphone rivals Apple and Samsung – and its decision not to pay out any annual dividends. Company executives countered that Nokia needs to save cash for future investments.
In 2011, Elop said the transition to Windows software would take two years. That period is now over, and while recent results have shown growth in sales of Lumia smartphones using Windows Phone 8 software, the volumes pale in comparison with the top Samsung and Apple models, and sales of its regular mobile phones have plunged in the meantime.
"The road to hell"
"You're a nice guy...and the leadership team is doing its best, but clearly, it's not enough," shareholder Hannu Virtanen said to Elop. "Are you aware that results are what matter? The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Please switch to another road."
Despite such doubters, Elop repeated his commitment to Windows software.
"It's very clear to us that in today's war of ecosystems, we've made a very clear decision to focus on Windows Phone with our Lumia product line," he said. "And it is with that that we will compete with competitors like Samsung and Android."
Anti-virus firm McAfee buys Stonesoft
Helsinki, May 6 (YLE)
The American IT security firm McAfee is to acquire Finnish company Stonesoft in a deal worth around 300 million euros.
Network security outfit Stonesoft announced on Monday that it would be acquired by Intel-owned McAfee, in a deal that valued each share at 4.50 euros—142 percent higher than the stock's 12-month average price.
Stonesoft's major shareholders, who own more than a third of the company's stock, have committed to accpepting the offer, and the company's board has recommended other shareholders also accept it.
The US company said it was particularly keen to obtain Stonesoft's expertise in so-called next generation firewalls.
"These solutions anticipate emerging customer needs in a continually evolving threat landscape," claimed Michael DeCesare, McAfee president, in a statement.
Women gradually increase presence on corporate boards
Helsinki, April 24 (YLE)
Women now hold 23% of the positions of the boards of listed companies in Finland, up just slightly from 22% one year ago.
Women sit on the boards of directors of all of the large and medium-sized companies listed on the Helsinki stock exchange. In contrast there are 16 small companies that do not have any women board members, according to a survey by the Central Chamber of Commerce.
Leena Linnainmaa, Deputy CEO of the Central Chamber of Commerce says that while the change over the past year was not large, the trend is continuing.
The code of ethics for companies listed in Helsinki calls for both men and women to hold position on boards of directors. Companies that fail to meet gender targets on their boards are required to file a public declaration.
"The board gender code has proven to be an effective tool to increase women's membership on boards, since back in 2008 when the requirement was introduced no less than 49 percent of listed companies didnft have a single female board member," Linnainmaa declared.
Industry speculates on new Nokia handset
Helsinki, April 23 (YLE)
The technology bloggers and writers were abuzz Tuesday on speculation that Finnish phone maker Nokia will unveil a new and inexpensive handset featuring a QWERTY keyboard. Nokia remained mum on the subject.
While they expect Finnish phone maker Nokia to reveal a new mobile phone Wednesday, Mashable gurus donft believe that the model will join the Lumia line-up, nor that it will even be a smartphone. They are putting their money on a new low-cost Symbian-based Asha phone.
The blogosphere musings were triggered by comments in gConversationsh, the official Nokia blog, which mentioned that the company would launch gsomething newh Wednesday morning. The comment was accompanied by an image showing what appears to be the corner of a phone display and keyboard.
Another digital technology magazine, Engagdet, engaged in similar speculation Tuesday, saying that the timing of the launch suggests that the new offering is aimed at European or Asian markets.
Nokia has not offered an official comment on the rumours.
Katainen calls for "fair EU"
Helsinki, April 18 (YLE)
Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen (NCP) presented the EU parliament with his views on a fair EU in Strasbourg on Tuesday.
Before Katainen launched into a ten point address regarding his vision of the future of the European Union, he expressed his condolences to the victims of the Boston marathon bombings, saying that Europe stands by its American friends.
The Finnish Prime Minister then went on to give a speech highlighting his personal concern at the predominance of pessimistic attitudes in Europe. He feels that EU discussion is dominated by extremes when the European Union should instead focus on presenting credible and practical ways to move forward.
Katainen said that he does not understand the nationalist and populist emphases or the drawing of lines of division between north and south.
According to him, a fair EU will progress through common values, respectful discourse and mutual adherence to rules.
gWhen we respect rules and the rule of law, we uphold democracy. This strengthens peoplefs ownership of European integration,h he said.
Rehn tells Finland to get its act together
Pekka Vauramo New CEO of Finnair
Helsinki, April 10 (YLE)
EU economic commissioner Olli Rehn has tough talk for his compatriots when it comes to competitiveness.
The European Commissioner for Monetary Affairs, Olli Rehn, has called on Finland to improve its competitiveness. The Finnish commissioner told Yle that Finland's wages are too high.
Rehn said that Finland seems to be busy researching and developing things all the time without actually producing products that sell. He sees clumsy productisation of Finnish inventions and excessive wage increases as the main reasons why the nationfs international competitiveness has dropped.
The European Commissionfs number-two man noted that Finland has lost market share despite its investments in research and product development.
His comments on Wednesday are a foretaste of the Commissionfs formal recommendations on how to boost Finlandfs ability to compete, which are due in May.
Finns do not seem to know how to convert innovations into successful products, he argues, noting that Finland ranks 15th among the 27 EU states when it comes to turning inventions into saleable products.
Sliding into deficit
Rehn is worried by the fact that Finlandfs balance of trade has fallen into deficit in recent years.
gFinland is the only so-called surplus economy in Europe that has become a deficit economy within the past two years,h Rehn said.
Finland has lost market share, partly because of problems in the telecoms industry, he pointed out. The commissioner added that rising wages since 2007 or 2008 have also eaten away at competitiveness.
gItfs important to strengthen innovation and marketing and look at the cost of Finnish labour,h he admonished his fellow Finns.
Within a decade, the average Finnish householdfs indebtedness level has risen from 65 percent to 118 percent of income.
gThat is not yet worrying, but itfs important to pay attention to that,h said Rehn, adding that gFinland has had bad experiences with over-indebtedness.h
Finnish innovation centre opens in Beijing
Helsinki, April 8 (YLE)
Finland has opened a new innovation centre in the Chinese capital Beijing. The centre, christened eFinchif, will help small and medium-sized Finnish companies enter the Chinese market.
The centre is located in the Zhongguancun district, and has service points in Shanghai and Shenzhen. It is a collaboration between the Ministry for Employment and the Economy, Finpro and Tekes.
The Minister for Foreign trade, Alexander Stubb, was present for the centrefs opening.
Helsinki, April 4 (YLE)
The flag carrier announced on Thursday that its new CEO will come from Cargotec.
Finnair has named its new CEO. He is Pekka Vauramo, who now works for freight-handling company Cargotec.
That's the same company that Finnair's former CEO, Mika Vehviläinen, left the national carrier last month to head.
New CEO Vauramo now heads Cargotec's MacGregor division in Hong Kong.
He will take over the controls at Finnair at the beginning of June.
Finnair chair Klaus Heinemann said Vauramo's "strong experience in the Asian markets combined with his leadership skills" make him "a perfect match for Finnair".
Vauramo, a 55-year-old engineer, has worked for Cargotec for six years.
51K a month
Finnair says he will be paid a salary of 51,500 euros a month, but no housing or car benefits.
His predecessor was paid a monthly salary of about 48,000 euros in 2012, but he also earned some 38,000 euros in housing benefits during the year.
1.7 billion downloads and more growth for Rovio
Helsinki, April 3 (YLE)
Finnish game-maker Rovio doubled its revenues in 2012. Last year the company brought four new games to market: Angry Birds Space, Angry Birds Star Wars, Bad Piggies and Amazing Alex.
Rovio staff more than doubled from 224 to 518 in 2012. Gross revenues for the year totalled around 152 million euros, up from close to 76 million in 2011.
The company expects growth to continue. Releasing its 2012 results on Wednesday, the Espoo-based Rovio said that its games so far have been downloaded 1.7 billion times.
Rovio's after-tax earnings last year were some 55 million euros, well above the 35 million earned in 2011.
Metso looks at demerger plan
Helsinki, March 25 (YLE)
Finnish engineering company Metso is studying the possible spin-off of its pulp, paper and power unit, saying the divestment could boost growth.
The pulp, paper and power unit, whose products include paper machines and power plants, generated about 40 percent of Metso's net sales of 7.5 billion euros last year. However, the unit's performance has been dampened by a global downturn in paper demand.
Metso, which last month posted a 3 percent drop in underlying core earnings to 196 million euros, said the demerger would help accelerate growth in both the new company and the remaining units - Mining and Construction and Automation.
The paper machine business, which makes about half of its sales of the unit being spun off, has been hit by a decline in magazines and newspapers as consumers switch to digital devices. Last year, Metso slashed some 500 jobs from its Finnish paper units.
Metso management believes that the demerger plan will be approved by the company's board by the end of the second quarter. If the plan goes ahead, the new company will be listed on the Helsinki exchange before the end of this year.
Cabinet plans higher 'sin taxes' and lower corporate rates
Centralised pay talks collapse
Helsinki, March 21 (YLE)
The government has announced dramatic plans to lower corporate tax rates sharply while raising consumption taxes.
In a major tax reform announced after negotiations at the House of Estates on Thursday, the government says it plans to raise consumption taxes on some items while lowering corporate tax rates.
Tax hikes are in the offing for alcohol, sweets, tobacco and electricity. The latter may be a concession to the Green League, who have sought higher energy taxes as a way of encouraging more efficiency and reducing the need for further generation capacity.
There will be no increase in income or value-added taxes, including those on food and medicines. However all dividends will now be taxable.
A more appealing destination for companies?
Meanwhile the cabinet plans to reduce the corporation tax in an effort to keep companies headquartered here -- and hopefully attract more direct foreign investment.
The move comes in reaction to tax reductions by nearby countries including Sweden, Estonia, Denmark and Britain.
Besides Denmark, they all now have lower tax levels than Finland -- potentially making them more attractive as home bases for companies.
After an earlier reduction by the six-party government, Finland's corporate tax rate is now 24.5 percent, slightly above the EU average of 22.4 percent.
The rate will be slashed to 20 percent, as compared to Sweden's 22 percent.
This could represent a drop in state revenues of some 900 million euros annually.
Government ministers held a press conference on Thursday afternoon at the House of Estates to announce details of tax and spending changes planned for 2014. They confirmed the details leaked earlier, adding that the upper limit on tax deductions for hiring home help will be raised to 2400 euros.
In all, the cabinet plans a further 600 million euros in budget cuts, spaced over the next three years.
The Federation of Finnish Enterprises welcomed the overall tax package on Thursday afternoon.
Helsinki, March 21 (YLE)
EmployersEand workersErepresentatives broke off long-running negotiations aimed at securing an economy-wide deal on pay and conditions on Wednesday night.
Labour market organisations had been called to the Prime Minister's official residence Kesäranta for the talks. At the same time, leaders of the government parties were present for separate, but related, negotiations on the government budget.
Without a two-year deal on pay and conditions, the government's ability to plan ahead is somewhat restricted.
Each side blamed the other for the collapse in talks. Union confederations were unwilling to accept a proposal to cut pension contributions to support workersEpurchasing power.
"Current purchasing power was to be supported with workersEand employersEpension contributions, and that endangers young peoplesEpensions," said blue collar trade union confederation chair Lauri Lyly. "We were not ready for that."
EmployersErepresentatives would not countenance pay increases.
"Labour costs cannot rise, so an increase in pension contributions would have been the wrong solution," said Jyri Häkämies, chair of the employersEorganisation, the Confederation of Finnish Industries.
SAK ready to negotiate centralized agreement
Helsinki, March 11 (YLE)
The board of the blue collar trade union confederation SAK decided Monday afternoon to pursue talks with the private sector employers' grouping, EK on a new, economy-wide agreement on pay and conditions.
Announcing the decision, SAK Chairman Lauri Lyly said that if exploratory talks with employers continue, they could transition directly into full negotiations.
The SAK, has, however, set the condition that lowering pension contributions will not be used to boost purchasing power.
Also on Monday, the board of the Finnish Confederation of Professionals STTK announced its readiness to go into talks with employers on a broad-based labour market settlement. However, the STTK has set conditions, including pay rises that will boost purchasing power.
Employers want an agreement without wage rises, but unions say no deal will be possible without pay hikes.
Worlds largest biomass gasification plant inaugurated in Vaasa
Helsinki, March 11 (YLE)
The plant aims to replace up to 40 percent of the domestic coal used for energy production with biofuels.
Constructed adjacent to Finnish-based Vaskiluodon Voima's existing Vaskiluoto 2 coal-fired plant, the 140MW plant will produce bio gas from wood – mainly from forest residue – to generate electricity and provide heating for residents of Vaasa.
It is the largest biomass gasification plant in the world.
Vaskiluodon Voima estimates that the plant will generate 400 new jobs, particularly in the field of fuel procurement.
The plant was inaugurated on Monday by Minister of Labour, Lauri Ihalainen.
Nokia to fire 209 data workers
Helsinki, February 27 (YLE)
Lay-off talks concluded on Wednesday, with the conclusion that a total of 209 workers in Nokiafs data administration department would leave the company.
Of those to go, 95 are based in Espoo, and 83 of those on the hit list currently work in Salo. According to information received by Yle, some 209 people in Finland will lose their jobs.
Nokia announced the legally-mandated co-determination negotiations in January. At that time, the company said the talks would affect some 700 people working in Finland.
The company plans to outsource data administration to the Indian companies HCL Technologies and T
Government taps more subsidies to rescue STX ship orders
Helsinki, February 26 (YLE)
A deal reached after months of debate ensures that STX will be able to deliver two ships ordered by a German cruise line, but does not solve all of the shipyardfs long-term challenges.
Financing has been secured to ensure completion of two luxury cruisers at the Turku shipyard, Minister of Economic Affairs Jan Vapaavuori announced on Tuesday.
He said that a deal was negotiated on Monday and approved by the governmentfs economic committee on Tuesday.
The state is granting 31 million euros in so-called innovation subsidies toward construction of the two vessels for the German company TUI Cruises. Just over half of this has already been paid out, with 15 million euros in new funds now pledged.
The state also plans to buy the property where the shipyard is located and lease it back to the shipbuilder. The deal is worth more than 23 million euros.
Vapaavuori says that STX has committed to extensive capitalisation, which will run into the millions of euros. TUI Cruises has also agreed to allow more significantly more flexibility in the financing of the project.
The minister stressed that the solution ensures that STX will be able to deliver the two ships, but does not solve all of the shipyardfs problems in the longer term.
Finance Minister: Europe heading for social crisis
Helsinki, February 14 (YLE)
Finance Minister Jutta Urpilainen says that a direct consequence of Europe?s ongoing financial woes is a growing social crisis.
Speaking on Yle?s A-studio discussion programme Wednesday night, Finance Minister Jutta Urpilainen warned that the European sovereign debt debacle is rapidly morphing into a social crisis.
The Finance Minister said that although Europe is in a more stable situation than it was six months ago, the region is still grappling with difficulties. Urpilainen pointed to youth unemployment in Greece, which at 60 percent, she described as ?worrying?.
She proposed a programme of reforms for her southern European counterparts, which would incorporate northern fiscal discipline with its extensive social safety net.
Outokumpu targets major cost-cutting
Helsinki, February 14 (YLE)
Finnish stainless steel maker Outokumpu is launching a new cost-cutting plan following 2012 pre-tax losses that doubled to 523 million euros.
The company said it is targeting 150 million euros in annual cost reductions with a 300 million reduction in net working capital. The cuts would complement its current plan to save 200 million euros through merger-related savings,
While the plans will have an impact on the company's operations at Tornio, according to Senior Vice President for Production and Sales at Outokumpu Hannu Hautala, the main focus will be elsewhere in Europe.
Outokumpu does not publish plant-by-plant figures.
"Roughly speaking, the early part of the year went well in Tornio. Volumes were good and the price level adequate. But, late in the year, demand declined and prices, especially, fell both of which affected Tornio's profitability," Hautala told Yle.
Business lobby: Cut corporate taxes to 15 percent
Helsinki, February 12 (YLE)
The Confederation of Finnish Industries EK says there is no need to hike taxes on corporations and capital income, nor should government adopt a so-called windfall tax. Instead the private sector representative wants government to slash corporate taxes.
The Confederation of Finnish Industry the EK wants government to axe corporate taxes down to 15 percent from the current 24.5 percent.
The EK called on the government to make the decision to cut business taxes during its mid-term revision at the end of this month.
The organisation also said that capital income should not be subjected to higher taxation, nor should government adopt a windfall tax, which would see energy companies surrender part of their profits from emissions trading.
The private sector business lobby believes that only a significant reduction of corporate taxes would accelerate economic growth and create jobs.
It reiterated its call for conservative wage policies and more flexibility in labour market agreements.
Economic Affairs Minister: Reform corporate tax regime
On Monday Economic Affairs Minister Jan Vapaavuori called for a radical reform of Finland's corporate tax regime.
The Minister said the central goal of tax reform would be to stimulate growth and job creation.
He noted that the current taxation system does not sufficiently encourage investment.
He called on the government to send a clear message that industrial investment enjoys special protection from the government.
ECB to Finland: Time to tackle inflation
Helsinki, February 11 (YLE)
The European Central Bank has called on Finland to moderate the increase of consumer prices. ECB executive board member Jorg Asmussen told Yle that Finland particularly needs to open up its retail sector to help bring prices down to manageable levels.
Before the global financial crisis in 2008, consumer prices in Finland were actually lower than in other European Union countries. But post-2008, inflation in Finland grew faster than in other member countries.
Europe's most influential central bankers are now telling Finland that it's time to take action.
German economist and ECB executive board member Jorg Asmussen told Yle in Frankfurt that reforms are most urgently needed in the country?fs retail sector.
"We are also suggesting that you open up markets more, particularly the retail sector, so that prices will fall," Asmussen counseled.
President to take 20 percent pay cut
Helsinki, February 7 (YLE)
President Sauli Niinisto is to take a voluntary pay cut of one fifth in accordance with a proposal he made last month. The cut will not apply to the pensions of former Presidents Halonen, Ahtisaari and Koivisto.
The president's salary will drop from 160,000 euros to 126,000 euros per annum. The government has approved the move.
In practice, Niinisto will be at the same pay level that his predecessor Tarja Halonen enjoyed in 2006. In addition to a tax-free salary, the president lives rent-free in his state residence with maintenance, heating, lighting and decoration expenses all covered by the state.
Previous presidents each receive a pension equivalent to 60 percent of their original salary earned while in office. However, the government is proposing that this not be reduced for former heads of state.
Valio wholesale milk prices rise 30 percent
Helsinki, February 1 (YLE)
The Finnish dairy cooperative Valio announced a 30 percent increase in the price of wholesale milk following a ruling by competition authorities. The price hike takes effect from February 1.
Consumers may find themselves paying more for milk, if retailers decide to pass on the increased cost of wholesale milk. Finnish dairy company Valio said that it increased the wholesale price of its milk by 30 percent in compliance with local competition authorities.
In December, Finland's Competition and Consumer Authority found that Valio had been selling its wholesale milk at loss-making prices to force the competition out of the market. The primary target of the tactic was said to be the Danish-Swedish-Finnish Arla Ingman.
The Competition Authority had asked the Market Court to impose a 70 million euro fine on Valio for its anti-competition activities.
In its defense, Valio claims that it has always sold milk profitably at the previous price level on the wholesale market.
The matter between the Competition Authority and Valio is still before the Market Court.
CEO Mika Vehviläinen to leave Finnair
Helsinki, January 28 (Finnair)
Finnair CEO Mika Vehviläinen has announced he will resign from Finnair as of February 28 to become the CEO of Cargotec.
"It has been a great experience to head Finnair and to take part in the enormous transformation that the aviation business is currently undergoing. I have enjoyed leading the change at Finnair and I have had the privilege to work with an excellent team - even if there have been some tough moments as well. Together with the entire Finnair team, during the past three years we have managed to implement several changes, some of them difficult, and improve Finnair's competitiveness. I believe now is a good time to leave Finnair in the hands of my future successor. The company is heading towards a positive financial result and we are in a better position to build the kind of Finnair that upcoming major investments require," says Mika Vehviläinen.
Finnair Board of Directors has appointed Ville Iho, Chief Operating Officer of Finnair, to be deputy CEO and lead Finnair until the new CEO has been appointed. Mr. Iho has a broad and long experience at Finnair, having worked in the company since 1998 and in the executive board since 2009. Finnair Board of Directors has already started the search for the CEO.
Nokia reports 440 million euro profits
Helsinki, January 24 (YLE)
Nokia's latest quarterly report shows an upturn in the mobile company's fortunes. A year ago the phone manufacturer posted losses of nearly one billion euros. However despite the upturn, Nokia has suspended its annual dividend payment.
The mobile company was racking up profits again in the last fiscal quarter. In its latest quarterly report for 2012, Nokia posted profits of 439 million euros for the October-December period. Just one year ago the company reported losses of 954 million euros for the same period. However company turnover dipped from 10 to eight billion euros in Q4 of 2012 compared to twelve months earlier.
"We are very encouraged that our team's execution against our business strategy has started to translate into financial results. Most notably we are pleased that Nokia Group reached underlying operating profitability in the fourth quarter and for the full year 2012," said Nokia CEO Stephen Elop.
This time Nokia is not paying dividends from last year's profits. Shareholders have received dividends every year for the past 20 years - until now. The handset maker has been making operating losses for the past one and a half years.
"They are a recognised brand around the world. They have some increasingly attractive products and I'm hearing they're going to have some nice products in 2013. So tough slog, lots of work to do, not out out of trouble yet, but a glimmer of hope with the results this quarter," said CCS Insight analyst Ben Wood.
The mobile giant's net income in the last quarter was boosted by profits from Nokia Siemens Networks. The company's net cash position was strengthened by nearly 800 million euros, of which 650 million euros was generated by the Finnish-German telecom equipment company. In contrast, previous quarterly results have reported dwindling assets.
All-time record lottery win
Helsinki, January 19 (YLE)
A single ticket won an all-time grand prize of 12.5 million euros in Saturday evening's Finnish lottery drawing.
The previous record, 12.2 million, was set this past October.
On Saturday, a single ticket with all seven numbers drawn brought the holder 12.5 million. The ticket was purchased in the western city of Tampere.
The lottery, known at Lotto, has been the most popular form of gambling in the country for over 40 years. For example, in 2011, the Finns spent an average of 101 euros each playing the lottery.
UPM to slash nearly 900 jobs worldwide
Helsinki, January 17 (YLE)
Finnish forest products company UPM is looking to send home nearly 900 workers from paper production installations in three European countries and other parts of the globe. The firm cites reduced production of printing paper.
UPM plans to mothball one paper machine and send home 90 workers in Rauma, southwest Finland. The company plans to mothball its number three paper machine at its Rauma mill in south-west Finland. Retrenchment talks affecting 90 workers at the plant are to begin immediately.
UPM will also shutter one factory in Docelles, north-eastern France and another paper machine in Ettringen, western Germany. Altogether the company will slash 860 jobs worldwide.
UPM hopes the plant closures and payroll cuts will generate annual fixed cost savings of 90 million euros. However the programme is expected to set the company back by 100 million euros in one-time cash costs.
Nokia cuts 300 jobs, transfers 800
Helsinki, January 17 (YLE)
Finnish mobile phone maker Nokia says it will cut 300 IT jobs and transfer another 820 to service partners. The announcement followed newspaper reports that the company planned to trim its global IT workforce.
Nokia announced Thursday that it was streamlining its information technology organisation "to achieve operational efficiency and reduce operating costs".
As a result, the company said, it would transfer certain IT activities as well as 820 employees to HCL Technologies and TATA Consultancy Services.
An additional 300 employees would receive pink slips as the handset maker trimmed the global IT organisation. Nokia currently employs about 2,000 IT workers worldwide.
The company said that the majority of workers affected by the changes are based in Finland.
Last summer the company announced that it planned to reduce payroll costs by cutting 3,700 jobs. About 1,000 of that total were still to be identified but have now been accounted for in the latest retrenchment round.
The announcement follows a last week's surprise announcement of a fourth-quarter earnings recovery. Company executives then lauded the performance of the Finnish-German subsidiary Nokia Siemens Networks.
Finland reclaims superior credit rating
Helsinki, January 15 (YLE)
Finland once again enjoys a golden triple-A credit rating, following an upgrade to 'stable' from Standard & Poor's on Monday.
S&P now said it believes the impact from the eurozone crisis has been contained. It was also satisfied by measures taken by the government to strengthen the economy, though it said it only expected 0.5 percent growth in 2013.
"The outlook revision reflects our view that the risks to Finland's financial, economic, and policymaking environment emanating from the eurozone crisis have remained contained and we expect that this will continue to be the case throughout 2013," said S&P in a statement
Nokia's Q4 better than expected
Helsinki, January 10 (YLE)
Finland's Nokia said Thursday that its fourth-quarter results were better than expected and that its mobile phone business achieved underlying profitability.
Quarterly net sales in devices and services was about 3.9 billion euros. It sold a total of 86.3 million devices. Smartphones accounted for 6.6 million units, of which 4.4 million were Windows-based Lumia handsets, the company said.
Seasonality and competitive environment are expected to have a negative impact on the first quarter 2013 underlying profitability for devices and services, compared to the fourth quarter 2012.
Nokia expects its devices and services operating margin in the first quarter to be approximately negative 2%, plus or minus four percentage points.
Nokia also estimates that Nokia Siemens Networks has exceeded expectations for the fourth quarter 2012, delivering record underlying profits and a third consecutive quarter of underlying profitability.
Finland's largest wind power farm to be built in Pori
Helsinki, January 9 (YLE)
The west coast town of Pori will soon be home to Finland's largest wind power farm.
Wind power sector firm Tulliwatti is to construct a 54 megawatt wind power facility just to the north of Pori by the end of summer 2015. The investment value for a joint venture between utilities St1 and S-Voima is some 75 million euros.
A total of twelve 4.5 megawatt wind power plants will be built on the site.
The Pori region of western Finland is of prime significance for the Tuuliwatti company. The company began wind power production in the area with a three megawatt facility back in 2010. It is also constructing wind power plants in other parts of the region.
Finnair ranked as world's safest airline
Helsinki, January 8 (YLE)
Finnair has been ranked as the world's safest airline in the 2012 JACDEC Safety Index. This is the first time Finland's national carrier has topped the rankings.
After Finnair came Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific Airways, Emirates and Etihad.
"Of course we are pleased, as safety is the kind of thing where you can't compromise," said Finnair communications chief Arja Suominen. "We invest a lot in it. Finnair is the fifth oldest airline in the world, and experience helps in safety issues."
JACDEC bases Finnair's position on its accident record: the firm's last accident was in the 1960s. The company also has relatively few near misses and other incidents.
Taiwan-based China Airlines is ranked last out of the 60 airlines in the rankings. It has lost eight planes, killing 755 passengers, over the last 30 years.
Finnair is the only European airline in the top five. TAP Portugal is in seventh place, British Airways is 10 and Lufthansa is 11.
In last year's JACDEC rankings Finnair was ranked second.
Nokia Siemens Networks separation packages for 300
Helsinki, January 7 (YLE)
Finnish-German networks company Nokia Siemens Networks announced the start of redundancy talks last autumn. Some 300 employees have taken advantage of voluntary separation packages and left the company.
The majority of payroll cuts took place in the company's Espoo headquarters, while workers in Oulu and Tampere also signed up for the retrenchment packages.
"The packages were scaled according to the individuals?f working contracts," explained communications officer Riitta Mard.
Last September NSN launched redundancy talks affecting 400 employees. The talks ended in November, but the company did not publicise the outcome.
NSN said Monday that the 300 voluntary separations have met its payroll reduction targets and no further retrenchments are needed.
Last spring the company was riven by a previous round of redundancies when it cut or outsourced more than 600 jobs.
France proposed Franco-Finnish shipbuilder
Helsinki, January 7 (YLE)
Former Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen confirmed on Monday that France presented an initiative to Finland on the establishment of a joint state-owned shipbuilding company while he was in office.
According to Vanhanen, the initiative was made either by then-President Nicolas Sarkozy or his minister of the economy, and that talks were started between officials on the proposal.
There were several rounds of negotiations, but Finland decided to withdraw from the venture, that also included a third country which Vanhanen has declined to name. Furthermore, the former Prime Minister declined to specify the reasons Finland did not follow through on the talks, but he did point out that Finnish shipyards received a number of significant orders during his term, without a state-owned company.
The issue of the state acquiring holdings in shipbuilding has been a fresh topic of debate since the STX shipyards in Turku recently lost out to a French company in a competition for a major contract.
Matti Vanhanen was Prime Minister 2003-2010.
EC VP Rehn warning: Cut public debt now
Helsinki, December 19 (YLE)
European Commission Vice President and Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn says Finland must act quickly to nip the growth of public debt in the bud.
An economic report of European Union countries published in Brussels highlights the disturbing growth of Finland's public debt.
European Commission Vice President Olli Rehn called on the government to moderate the growth of salaries and to pursue pension reform, measures he said had already been implemented in other European countries.
"Public finances show that Finland has not been able to maintain the stability programme it laid out. Finland's (public) debt will rise to as much as 55 percent next year and soon after that in the next five years, which will be in the next term of government, it will rise to around 60 percent," Rehn said Wednesday in an interview on Yle?fs Ykkosaamu radio programme.
"In the European Union, that?fs the level at which measures to restrain excess debt and budget deficits will kick in," he added.
Accenture announces Oulu closure, 275 job cuts
Helsinki, December 18 (YLE)
The consulting firm Accenture is to cut 275 jobs and close operations in the northern city of Oulu. In addition, 46 employees will be furloughed.
There will also be reductions at the company?fs locations in Tampere and Helsinki, but the firm did not provide further details of those cuts.
According to Markku Muotka, shop steward at Accenture Oulu, redundancies will begin this week. He estimates that the offices will close in the spring.
The company said it would offer support for startups and career coaching to those affected by the cuts.
Gloomy economic outlook shadows budget debate
Helsinki, December 17 (YLE)
The lacklustre outlook for the Finnish economy is likely to dominate discussions as Parliamentarians gather this week for final debate on government's 2013 budget estimates.
The budget has been based on the Finance Ministry's modest growth estimates of one percent for this year and the next.
However last week the Bank of Finland downgraded growth to just three-tenths of a percent this year and 0.4 percent next year.
Government is looking to try and balance its finances with a two-billion euro package of spending cuts and tax hikes in its third consecutive austerity budget aimed at slashing or eliminating the fiscal deficit.
And in spite of the government's conservative package, it will still draw down some 7.5 billion euros in new debt next year.
Slacker domestic spending and a weakening trade outlook fueled by the sluggish economic are also reducing government's tax incomes and undermining its budget targets.
Finance Ministry officials are now busy plugging the new data about the economy into their models to update their forecasts and budgeting plans.
"We're not talking about billions (in savings), but we think it's important to uphold the goal of reducing government debt by the year 2015," said Kimmo Sasi, head of Parliament?fs Finance Committee.
Fiskars broadens Nordic design palette
Helsinki, December 12 (YLE)
In a bid to expand eastward, the tool and housewares company Fiskars is to buy the Danish ceramics firm Royal Copenhagen.
The deal, announced Wednesday, is worth some 66 million euros. That includes production facilities and other operations in Thailand and Japan.
The hand-painted ceramics firm was founded in 1775 by the Danish Royal Family.
Fiskars, meanwhile, is Finland's oldest industrial company, having been founded in the village of the same name in 1649. It is best known for its often-copied orange-handled scissors.
The Finnish company is hoping the deal will spur its international growth, particularly in Asia.
"Along with its world-class craftsmanship, Royal Copenhagen brings to Fiskars 30 years of valuable experience of operating in Asia, which will support our growth strategy outside the Nordic markets," said Fiskars CEO Kari Kauniskangas in a statement on Wednesday.
Fiskars already owns such iconic Nordic houseware brands as Rorstrand of Sweden and Iittala and Arabia of Finland.
Finland sinks into recession
Helsinki, December 5 (YLE)
Exports are dragging and domestic demand has not been enough to keep the Finnish economy out of the red, show the latest figures from Statistics Finland.
With a decline in gross domestic product (GDP) of 0.1 percent in the third quarter, Finland has now officially crossed into recession after two successive quarters of negative growth.
Finnish heavy industry has already been struggling for some time, with the service sector driving growth in recent years. But services alone have not been able to help Finland bounce back after taking a hit last summer. With the service sector accounting for over half of the economy, consumer spending will be decisive in the coming months.
The general mood remains gloomy among Finland's industrial heavyweights, finds a fresh poll. The ongoing euro crisis continues to be a cause for uncertainty and it is causing risk-averse Finnish companies to hold off on making investments.
Consumers have also been left scratching their heads as to where the country is headed. Interest rates continue to be record-low. At the same time, this past autumn has seen a steady stream of redundancy announcements as companies?f businesses contract.
Finland from Greek debt decision
Helsinki, November 27 (YLE)
A leading Finnish economic expert, Professor Sixten Korkman from Department of Economics at Aalto University, believes Finland will not necessarily have to pay more as a result of Monday?fs deal on the Greek debt.
On Monday, Finland agreed with other eurozone countries to grant Greece extra time to repay its debts at a meeting in Brussels yesterday. Along with Germany, Finland rejected the idea of forgiving official loans to Athens.
Decision : a conjuring trick
In its entirety, Korkman believes Monday's decision to be a conjuring trick
"The Greek decision is something of a political conjuring trick: from an economic standpoint one should have cut Greece's debts. However this is hard for politicians to swallow, because Germany does not want to incur any credit losses," Korkman explained.
Korkman added that until recently widespread had prevailed over Greece?fs ability to repay its debt. However, in recent days that feeling had changed.
Finnish Finance Minister Jutta Urpilainen said that the deal was satisfactory.
"This is good for Greece and brings stability to Finland," said Urpilainen. "The deal is also good for Europe."
Eurosceptic MP Timo Soini, meanwhile, criticised the deal. He said that it was only a matter of time before other crisis-hit countries request a similar agreement to reduce their debt burden.
No comfort from economic indicators
Helsinki, November 27 (YLE)
Economic indicators failed to provide comfort again in November. The consumer confidence indicator stood at 1.0 in November, down 0.6 percent since October and 3.4 in September. Businesses reported almost a total lack of growth.
Confidence in the economy was at the same level as one year ago in November but clearly below the long-term average, reported Statistics Finland.
However, consumers thought opportunities for saving to be good. Those in employment, though, felt the threat of losing their job grew slightly in November.
Neither were they comforted by industrial indicators published on Tuesday. The Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK) described prospects for the future as weaker than average. No growth is anticipated in the short term
Growth in service sector was also expected to stagnate in the next few months.
Finnair to outsource cabin crew services on flights to Spain and the Canaries
Helsinki, November 20 (YLE)
Finland's national carrier Finnair is to outsource its cabin crew services on flights to Barcelona and Madrid as well as on leisure flights to the Canary Islands. The announcement came on Tuesday at the end of consultative talks on redundancies.
Staffing changes on its flights to Spain will start next February at the earliest and on flights to the Canaries next autumn.
The company also plans to restructure the size of cabin crew staffing levels on intercontinental flights. Local staff will be used on flights on its New York route in addition to charter flights to and from Asia. Similar changes have already been implemented on some flights to Asian destinations.
Possible staff cuts will be made, the company says, by means of layoffs or unpaid leave. Finnair plans to lay off a maximum of 100 cabin crew staff next February. The layoffs will be for a period of around one month.
Finnair notes up to 100 jobs could go. Job cuts would be implemented in 2014. Until then, cabin crew staffs are covered by job guarantees until the end of 2013. The level of redundancies will depend on the development of Finnair's traffic and the number of employees reaching retirement age.
The airline has previously outsourced some of its leisure flights to other companies, for example, the Lisbon-based Hifly company. In its press release on Tuesday, Finnair said it had not yet selected a partner for the outsourcing of its cabin crew services on flights to Spain and the Canary Islands.
Sampo Bank is now Danske Bank
Helsinki, November 15 (YLE)
The bank changes its name on Thursday as the parent company introduces a common brand across its subsidiaries.
The new name is being adopted in Estonia, Norway, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Latvia and Lithuania.
Customers' account numbers will stay the same and Sampo Bank cards will be valid through their expiration date.
The bank's deposit guarantee fund will remain 100,000 euros and within the scope of the Finnish deposit guarantee.
Sampo Bank has been a part of the international Danske Bank Group since 2007.
Häkämies leaves cabinet to lead industry group
Helsinki, November 8 (YLE)
Economic Affairs Minister Jyri Häkämies is quitting the government to take over as head of the Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK). Fellow National Coalition Party member Jan Vapaavuori will replace Hakamies as Minister of Economic Affairs.
The former Director General of the powerful industrial group, Mikko Pukkinen, was fired after a year and a half in the job. His dismissal, which was first reported by commercial broadcaster MTV3, takes effect immediately.
The EK's board expressed a lack of confidence in Pukkinen.
Häkämies takes over the post on November 19, relinquishing his posts in Parliament and the government.
He has been in the government since 2007. Until last year he was Minister of Defence with the added responsibility of overseeing state-owned companies.
After a National Coalition Party meeting to decide his replacement, former Housing Minister Jan Vapaavuori was announced as the new Minister of Economic Affairs.
Niinistö congratulates Obama on win
Helsinki, November 8 (YLE)
Finnish president Sauli Niinistö says he believes good relations will continue with the United States during Barack Obama's second term in office.
Niinistö praised US-Finnish relations in a statement issued by his office on Wednesday.
"Meeting today's shared global challenges demands strong transatlantic cooperation," Niinistö said in a congratulatory letter to the re-elected American president.
Thanks to excellent bilateral relations, the two countries are in a good position to deepen future cooperation, according to the Finnish leader.
Draft of bank tax published
Helsinki, November 2 (YLE)
The Ministry of Finance Friday published a draft of a law to impose a new temporary tax on Finnish banks in order to gather funds for any future bailout.
If passed as laid out in the draft, the tax would be levied on Finnish deposit banks and their foreign subsidiaries for the period of 2013-2015.
The aim is to collect around 170 million euros a year.
The draft calls for the size of the levy on each bank to be determined by its solvency in relation to its risks as registered at the end of the previous calendar year.
Branch offices of foreign banks in Finland are to be exempt.
The tax is a measure that was included in the programme of the present coalition government.
Most support for NCP, only gains for Finns Party
Helsinki, October 30 (YLE)
The National Coalition Party finished first in Sunday's municipal elections in terms of nationwide voter support. In terms of the number of votes won, only the Finns Party showed any gains.
Even with a slightly lower result than four years ago the National Coalition Party leader, Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen said that he was satisfied that his party's values appealed to the largest number of voters.
"People wanted to show in these elections that the values which we represent are the kind of values that can be trusted when building the future. Encouragement, education, tolerance and caring are the values most voted for by the Finns today," Katainen told a party election evening gathering on Sunday.
SDP chair Jutta Urpilainen noted that during the summer and the early autumn, her Party and the NCP looked to be neck-and-neck in the race.
"The final spurt by the National Coalition was better. Ours was maybe not quite as good as we had hoped," a seemingly disappointed Urpilainen told Yle.
In contrast, Centre Party leader Juha Sipila seemed pleased with his party's results.
"This was a victory for cooperation. This was better than the best of the polls," said Sipila, adding that in his view the outcome of the election was a clear message of opposition to government plans for municipal reforms.
Ryanair jets out of Turku
Helsinki, October 22 (YLE)
The budget airline Ryanair will shut down operations in Turku next summer after just one season. The airline has blamed the decision on soaring fees.
Come next summer the Ireland-based low-cost airline Ryanair will terminate flights on all four routes operating out of Turku airport to Barcelona and Malaga in Spain, Brussels and London.
"We are disappointed that we are forced to end operations in Turku after just one season," said Ryanair communications head Stephen McNamara.
"We were prepared to fly up to 100,000 passengers through Turku and that would have created scores of jobs," the company added.
Ryanair announced that it would transfer operations -- and jobs -- to another more affordable European airport where passengers are not as heavily taxed.
Nokia share rise short-lived, analysts cautious
Helsinki, October 18 (YLE)
The beleaguered mobile giant's stock leapt on Thursday's modest results, which analysts say left many questions unanswered.
CEO Stephen Elop is under pressure. Image: Nokia/Microsoft Nokia shares closed up by less than one percent in Helsinki on Thursday after a rollercoaster day. The stock price shot up immediately after the results were announced at 1pm Finnish time, only to fall back and then rise even higher, peaking at 2.42 euros. In the mid-afternoon it sank to 2.10, recovering somewhat to end the day at 2.22.
That means it is up by more than one-tenth within the past week, but still down by nearly half over the past year.
Swedish firms look to Oulu for ex-Nokia talent
Helsinki, October 8 (YLE)
Former Nokia workers in the north of Finland are being lured to new, lucrative jobs in Sweden. Despite the possibilities, many people based in Oulu could find it difficult to leave behind homes and families for a new life over the border.
Nokia has laid off hundreds of workers in northern Finland over the last few years. The company has not yet announced how the latest lay-offs will be distributed, but several hundred more Oulu Nokia workers are likely to face the axe in the next few months.
Workers are braced for new cuts that would bring the number of Nokia employees in Oulu to around half the 1,250 the company had at the start of the year.
At the same time, firms in Northern Sweden are struggling to find ICT workers to fill open jobs. Next week in Oulu, some forty firms from Sundsvall and five from Lulea will make their pitch to potential new employees.
'The idea is not to take skilled workers away from Finland, but to retain skills that have been built in Northern Sweden and Northern Finland over the last forty years,' explained Oliver Dogo, a business strategist at the municipality of Sundsvall.
'You could say that the situation is serious,' added Dog,o 'fCompanies compete for experienced talent and are raising salaries.'
Nordic business expert Jukka Olli from Business Oulu has enthusiastically advocated co-operation in northern regions for years. He sees it as a positive that the Swedish job market is buoyant, with vacancies in ICT, mining and nursing.
Finnish Exports up in August
Helsinki, October 7 (YLE)
Finland's balance of trade for August was in equilibrium, as exports rose and imports fell. However, the overall balance of trade for January through August was 1.3 billion euros in deficit.
According to preliminary figures from Finnish Customs, exports were up by 5% over the same month of 2011, while imports were down by 3%.
The data shows the value of both imports and exports was around 4.9 billion euros.
Even with this balance registered in August, the nation's trade deficit for the first eight months of the year stood at 1.3 billion euros.
The recovery in exports was led by higher sales abroad of electrical and electronic equipment and pharmaceuticals. Meanwhile, imports of general machinery and equipment, and forest industry machinery fell.
Katainen and Hollande discuss financial transaction tax
Helsinki, October 2 (YLE)
The tax proposed by France and Germany the previous week was one of the topics discussed during Katainen?fs visit to Paris on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen and France's President Francois Hollande also talked about how to develop the eurozone, the European economic and financial union, as well as EU internal markets.
"I told President Hollande that the financial transaction tax advocated by France, among others, was a sensitive issue in Finland. Small movements here could cause banks to relocate their operations outside Finland, leading to increased unemployment among bank employees," Katainen said in Paris.
The two countries also agreed on a joint statement supporting more involved internal digital markets within the EU, to be sent to the EU Commission and other member states.
"We hope Brussels comes up with new, concrete proposals, which will also help Finnish innovations and brain work take flight within the EU," Katainen said.
Nissan recalls cars over Helsinki steering wheel incident
Helsinki, September 13 (YLE)
The Nissan automobile manufacturer is recalling 51,000 cars worldwide for technical check-ups after a new Nissan Qashqai's steering wheel fell off mid-drive in Helsinki in August.
In Finland, 880 cars will be recalled for check-ups.
The fault came to light at the end of August, when the steering wheel came loose in the car that an Yle cameraman was driving.
Nissan says the fault lies in the production process alterations made at a subcontractor?fs factory, but did not say which company was to blame.
"It is a global motor industry subcontractor, that produces parts for several carmakers," said Erkkila.
Nissan Nordic Europe's communications manager Taina Erkkila said that, if the steering wheel's load is heavy, it can come loose and start turning in place, in which case the car would lose manoeuvrability.
The cars under recall have been sold in Europe, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as the Pacific region. Erkkila expects that the steering wheels in some 600 cars, of the 51,000 recalled worldwide, may have to be replaced.
Liikanen, Stubb upbeat on eurozone changes
Helsinki, September 12 (YLE)
Finland's central bank chief and Europe minister are cautiously optimistic about proposed eurozone banking reforms.
Bank of Finland governor Erkki Liikanen has defended the European Central Bank's new debt-purchase programme. The plan, announced last week, aims to make monetary policy more efficient.
Speaking in Helsinki on Wednesday, Liikanen, who is a member of the ECB's board, said the programme will make the effects of ECB rate changes felt equally throughout the eurozone.
"The aim of the decision is safeguarding monetary policy transmission and the singleness of the monetary policy without changing the division of responsibilities between member states and the ECB," Liikanen said.
He stressed that the so-called Outright Monetary Transactions programme "will be applied in equal terms to all euro area countries".
Liikanen told Yle that the programme will not have any impact on Finnish banking customers on an everyday basis.
"From the standpoint of the regular taxpayer, there may be a change in that the likelihood of major banking crises will decrease -- at least the kinds of crises where taxpayers have to foot the bill," he said, then asking rhetorically: "How will this decrease? Because banks can be monitored in a centralised way and parallel to that we'll build a system through which they can also be wound down in a controlled way."
Stubb: Healthy banks shouldn't suffer
Later on Wednesday, European Affairs Minister Alexander Stubb welcomed proposals for the ECB to supervise the region's banks, but warned that a banking union should not increase the burden on healthy banks.
"We think the basic idea is very good," he told Reuters, referring to proposed reforms which aim to break the link between states and distressed lenders.
"At the same time we must study the details [and]...make sure that healthy banks don't take on the burden of bad banks," he added.
Forest industry: More shutdowns in Finland if sulphur directive remains unchanged
Helsinki, September 9 (YLE)
A new EU directive limiting sulphur emissions from shipping is set to raise costs for Finnish exporters. Proponents of the new rules say they will, however, save 50,000 lives a year.
Up to now ships plying the Baltic Sea have been allowed to use fuel with a 1.0 percent sulphur content. That is set to drop to 0.1 percent in 2015 with the adoption of a new directive.
This will increase the cost of fuel and therefore of cargo shipping, making Finnish exporters' costs more significant.
The European Parliament will decide on the matter on Tuesday. The restrictions are most painful for Finland to adapt to, as up to 80 percent of Finnish exports leave the country by sea.
UPM CEO Jussi Pesonen has already threatened in Maaseudun Tulevaisuus, a newspaper linked to the Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners, to move production to Central Europe
Timo Jaatinen, Managing Director of the Finnish Forest Industries Federation, claims that investment in Finnish plants is also on hold ahead of implementation of the new rules.
"Now when it isn't known what is happening, investment is stalled, so Finnish factories are not developing," said Jaatinen. "That is naturally a problem. If industry is to remain competitive, then it should also invest in the future."
New Nokia flagship out in late November?
Helsinki, September 7 (YLE)
Nokia will start selling its new Lumia 920 flagship smartphone in Europe in November, operator sources told Reuters on Friday.
Nokia's Jo Harlow showed off a new Lumia on Wednesday. Image: Yle / Jukka Niva The 920 and the lower-priced 820, both running on Microsoft?fs new Windows Phone 8 operating system, were introduced at a press event in New York on Wednesday.
At that point CEO Stephen Elop refused to specify a shipping date or price, saying simply that the phones would be out sometime in the fourth quarter in select markets.
An executive at an eastern European operator said he would start sales of the Lumia 920 in the second half of November, adding larger countries would receive the model earlier that month.
A source at a Nordic operator said sales at his carrier would start in mid-to-late November.
A Nokia spokesman declined to comment on Friday on when sales would start.
Finland ranked 3rd in competitiveness, 5th in net effectiveness
Helsinki, September 6 (YLE)
The World Economic Forum has praised Finland for its health care system, educational opportunities, advances in science and its safety record.
Finland has risen to third place in the latest Global Competitiveness Report (GCR) published by the World Economic Forum.
Last year Finland was ranked fourth after being placed sixth or seventh the three preceding years.
Switzerland, where the Forum is based, topped the report for the fourth consecutive year. Singapore placed second, while Sweden fell into fourth place.
Sweden tops in online effectiveness
Also on Wednesday, Finland was ranked fifth in a list of the countries most effective at using the internet to improve people's lives, according to a global survey launched by Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web.
The World Wide Web Foundation's Web Index measures the economic, social and political impact of the internet, ranking 61 countries on criteria ranging from the proportion of people online to the amount of useful content available.
Finland ranked behind Sweden, the US, the UK and Canada.
Seven of the lowest 10 countries in the survey were in Africa.
In 2004, Berners-Lee was awarded the Millennium Technology Prize by Finnish President Tarja Halonen.
Budget plan: Everyone finds something to grumble about
Helsinki, August 30 (YLE)
Opposition leaders lashed out at the government's 2013 budget blueprint soon after it was unveiled on Thursday. The plan received a mixed reception among industrial bodies and economists.
Timo Soini, leader of the largest opposition group, the Finns Party, accused the cabinet of ducking its responsibility in regard to care for the elderly. He said the government watered down the eldercare law and put off decisions until 2015, after the current legislative term.
The Finns Party also criticised the planned hike in value-added tax and what it called insufficient funding for the police. These moves will weaken the position of the disadvantaged and undermine public safety, they warned.
The newly-elected leader of the other main opposition party, Centre chair Juha Sipila, said that the government's eldercare reforms had turned into a farce. Sipila also rapped the government for taking on more state debt.
Will emissions law hurt exports?
The director of the Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK), Mikko Pukkinen, said the government's plan delivers a blow to export industries regarding compensation for implementation of the EU's directive on the sulphur content of liquid fuels. Pukkinen says that companies are being forced to operate in a state of uncertainty because the cabinet did not make sufficiently clear decisions on how much firms will be recompensed for the costs of following the law.
The directive limits the sulphur content in gas oil, heavy fuel oil and marine fuels, in an attempt to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions, which can create acid rain. The government decided to only subsidise investments in desulphurisation equipment for ships for now.
Meanwhile the Paperworkers' Union warned that the enforcement of the sulphur directive could lead to a loss of thousands of jobs in Finland. Union president Petri Vanhala predicted that forest industry production and investments will shift to countries with less restrictive environmental laws. In that case, he said, there won't be tax revenues to cover eldercare or other social costs.
Nokia's share hike evaporates
Helsinki, August 28 (YLE)
Nokia shares rose in value on Monday but fell again on Tuesday. The mobile phone manufacturer's fortunes were temporarily improved amid speculation over the possible benefit stemming from the outcome of a patent dispute between Apple and Samsung.
At the end of Tuesday'fs trading, Nokia's share value on the Helsinki Stock Exchange had dropped by 7.8 percent to close with a value of 2.4 euros.
On Monday, Nokia shares climbed in value by up to eleven percent on the back of the patent dispute court ruling in the United States.
Samsung was ordered to pay over one billion dollars in damages to Apple for patent violations. Analysis believed Nokia and its iphones could benefit from the outcome.
PM Katainen to visit Japan
Helsinki, August 27 (YLE)
Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen will pay a five-day visit to Japan starting next Sunday. The purpose of the visit is to strengthen political and economic relations between Finland and Japan.
Jyrki Katainen. Image: Yle During the visit, the Prime Minister will meet Japanese ministers to discuss the global economic situation and cooperation among Asian countries. Katainen will also learn about Japan's plans for new energy policy guidelines.
A delegation of Finnish businessmen will accompany Katainen on his trip.
While in Japan, the Prime Minister will also meet senior management representatives of major Japanese corporations.
In Tokyo, Prime Minister Katainen's programme will include a visit to the opening of the remodelled Iittala department at a large Tokyo department store. Princess Takamado of Japan will also attend the event.
Timber sector misfortunes reflect economic trends
Helsinki, August 26 (YLE)
Finland's sawn goods industry is facing increasingly hard times. In the view of the Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK), this means that another recession is very close at hand.
The competitiveness of Finnish sawmills has weakened continuously since the beginning of this year and their market share has decreased. Further production losses are also feared. In the view of CEO Kai Merivuori of the Finnish Sawmills Association, a body representing independent mills, the situation is causing concern.
"Our cost pressures have not decreased. Problems persist in wood procurement and now it seems the construction industry is slowing down," says Merivuori.
He adds that expanding the business is nearly impossible in the absence of information about the availability of wood on the market and about its price -- though there's enough wood in Finnish forests.
The Sawmills Association also points out that wood and transportation costs in Finland are higher than in competitor nations such as Sweden and Germany
"Finland is an island and we are further away from our markets. This is a clear edge for our competitors," explains Merivuori.
US organisation: Finland world's strongest state
Helsinki, August 21 (YLE)
An annual index of failed states puts Finland at the top of the table as the world's most stable country while it ranks Somalia as the weakest.
Finland again claimed best place after displacing Norway for the first time in 2011. As a region, the Nordics have continued an unbroken streak of securing the top spots, though the Utoya massacre in Norway demonstrated "how a single, nationally traumatic event can negatively impact an otherwise highly stable country," according to The Fund for Peace, which produces The Failed States Index.
The US-based organisation calculates scores based on a dozen key political, social and economic indicators and more than 100 sub-indicators, including public services, income distribution, human rights and the rule of law.
Elop: Nokia to unveil new Windows smartphone
Helsinki, August 15 (YLE)
Nokia CEO Stephen Elop promised on Wednesday to unveil a new smartphone using Microsoft's latest Windows 8 software soon.
Speaking in Oslo, he also said he was sticking to his strategy of using Microsoft software despite the limited success of Windows Phones so far.
Nokia will hold a trade show in Helsinki on September 5th and 6th, just a week before an Apple event where the US competitor may announce a redesigned iPhone.
Firm dismisses S&P downgrade
In a separate development, Nokia shrugged off Standard & Poor's downgrade of its credit rating, saying on Wednesday afternoon it had sufficient liquidity and was conserving cash.
S&P cut Nokia's rating to BB- with a negative outlook, saying its second-quarter results and outlook for the third quarter were weaker than expected.
Nokia CFO Timo Ihamuotila said the impact of the rating agency's decision on Nokia was "limited."
Nokia shares rose by some seven percent after Elop's comments, and were up by around three percent in the afternoon despite the S&P announcement.
Marimekko chain growing fast in Asia, North America
Helsinki, August 14 (YLE)
For the first time in its 61-year history, the design firm Marimekko has sold more abroad than at home in Finland.
Marimekko first grabbed international attention in the 1950s and '60s. Image: YLE Despite this, the textile company reported a loss for the first half of the year. However, Marimekko typically scores most of its sales and profits towards the end of the year.
Marimekko says that turnover is rising briskly and promises to double its operating profits this year compared with last.
It made an operating loss of 545 million euros in the second quarter, compared with a loss of nearly 800 million a year earlier.
CEO Mika Ihamuotila is confident that the venerable firm's internationalisation strategy is paying off.
The company now has 94 shops, with 51 of them abroad. It plans to open about 20 more by year's end, mostly in Asia and the United States.
"We opened our first store in China in May, and we already have 22 in Japan, so that's the area where we'll continue our efforts. But there's also the US. A few days ago we opened a store in Boston and in the next few months we'll open ones in Beverly Hills, Silicon Valley and other places in the States," Ihamuotila told Yle.
Helsinki-Tallinn ferry traffic at record high
Helsinki, August 9 (YLE)
Over 70 percent of passenger traffic at the Port of Helsinki during the first six months of the year was on the route to and from the Estonian capital Tallinn. July passenger figures hit a new all-time high of more than 950,000.
The Tallink Superstar at sea. Image: Yle Ferry capacity on primary departures was in full use during July and ship lines operating on the route say that overall, they are near the upper limit of the number of passengers they can serve.
The largest number of passengers was carried by ships of the Tallink Silja Line, 550,000 during the month of July.
PM Katainen annoyed at Monti's comments
Helsinki, August 7 (YLE)
Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen has expressed annoyance with comments made by his Italian counterpart, Mario Monti, over Finland's role in handling the eurozone debt crisis. The dispute comes just a week after both leaders held cordial talks in Helsinki.
Mario Monti visited Finland last week. In the German magazine Der Spiegel, Monti indirectly criticised Finland, saying the country did not adhere to decisions made at EU summits but rather changed its mind a few days after the gatherings.
Monti hinted that the Finnish legislature had too much influence on the government's EU decisions.
In response, the Finnish premier said such statements by Monti give rise to unnecessary arguments within the EU at a time when members should be seeking viable solutions.
Other Finnish politicians have also expressed their dismay at Monti's comments.
Monti meanwhile said his comments had been misunderstood. He said he took the view that parliamentary supervision of government should be tightened rather than loosened.
UPM switches label paper manufacturing to China
Helsinki, August 7 (YLE)
Finnish paper making concern UPM is to construct a label paper machine at its Changshu mill in China.
The move reflects UPM's optimism in Chinese markets compared to declining fortunes in Europe. The machine, which will make paper labels, is scheduled to be on-line by the end of 2014. However, the company says production in China will not pose a threat to its paper manufacturing operations in Finland.
According to the company, the Changshu mill made up about 7 percent of UPM's annual paper production capacity in 2011.
Finnish forestry group UPM posted a larger than expected drop in second quarter profits on Tuesday. UPM's April-June operating profit, excluding special items, fell to 118 million euros from 201 million a year earlier.
Google to double size of Finnish server farm
Helsinki, August 2 (YLE)
Internet search giant Google on Thursday announced plans to expand its server farm in Hamina, creating 25 new jobs in the process.
Google's Hamina facility. Image: Yle The company said it was investing 150 million euros into remodelling the former paper mill which houses its facility. The expansion will double the size of the server farm in the south-eastern Finnish town.
The planned construction work also includes a face-lift of the facade designed by famous Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. The 18-month expansion project is estimated to employ up to 500 engineers and construction workers.
Once completed, the expanded server farm will create 25 new jobs in addition to the 90 existing positions.
Google bought the defunct Summa paper mill from forest products company Stora Enso in 2009.
Finnish tech industry: Darker days ahead
Helsinki, August 2 (YLE)
The Federation of Finnish Technology Industries is forecasting difficult times this autumn for tech companies.
Orders have dropped over the past few months, says the federation, particularly from other eurozone countries. The turnover of technology industry companies is expected to be lower this coming autumn than in the fall of 2011.
"The slow growth has stalled, and the outlook for the remainder of the year seems weaker," said CEO Jorma Turunen of the Federation of Finnish Technology Industries in a statement.
The companies that took part in the Federation of Finnish Technology Industries' latest survey reported that the value of new orders in the industry between April and June was 16 percent lower than in the corresponding period of 2011, and five per cent lower than in the preceding quarter. Compared to the pre-crisis level of autumn 2008, the volume of new orders was down almost 40 percent between April?June 2012.
Yle Survey: Finns negative about bailouts and future of the euro
Helsinki, July 12 (YLE)
An Yle-commissioned survey shows a majority of Finns do not want the country to assume more responsibility in the debt crisis to stabilize the eurozone. A majority also believe the eurozone will fragment in the next two years.
Some 66 percent do not want to increase the nation's responsibility for the euro crisis, according to an Yle survey commissioned by pollster Taloustutkimus. In addition, 60 percent of respondents believe a eurozone nation will quit the common currency during the next two years.
Some 22 percent of respondents were willing to increase national responsibility with 12 percent not stating any preference.
In the view of Taloustutkimus, previous similar surveys have indicated a greater positive attitude towards the euro. Now the mood is clearly more negative.
Men were less enthusiastic about the euro than women. Those over 35 years of age were less inclined to take on financial responsibility for other eurozone nations than young adults.
There is little enthusiasm across the Finnish political spectrum for taking more responsibility for flagging euro states with the most negative responses coming from Finns Party supporters. Of these, 86 percent were against further eurozone responsibility. Over half of supporters of the conservative National Coalition Party and Green League were against any increase in support.
Some 60 percent of those surveyed said they expect the resignation of a common currency member over the next two years. Some 30 percent believe the eurozone will collapse, while nine percent had no opinion on the matter.
Finland's growth up by 2.7%
Helsinki, July 12 (YLE)
Finland's GDP grew by 2.7 percent last year, according to data released by Statistics Finland. Last year, GDP stood at 189 billion euros.
Initial preliminary data released in March put the rate of growth at 2.9 per cent. In real terms, GDP was still 3 percent lower than in 2008.
In 2009, GDP dropped to a record -8.5 percent, following a global economic crisis triggered by the US financial sector meltdown.
According to Statistics Finland, many sectors in Finland's largely export-dependent economy successfully recovered from the battering caused by shrinking global demand.
The upturn was more apparent in the chemical and metal industries. In the service sector, business, health, social services and real estate all showed a growth in fortunes.
Rovio launches follow-up to Angry Birds
Helsinki, July 12 (YLE)
Angry Birds maker Rovio issued Amazing Alex on Thursday, its first game in three years.
The new franchise is intended to complement Rovio's Angry Birds game, which has been downloaded more than a billion times.
Today the Angry Birds franchise includes everything from plush toys to apparel and accessories. Rovio is hoping that Amazing Alex will repeat the success of the Angry Birds blockbuster franchise.
Amazing Alex is based on intellectual property Rovio purchased from another game, Casey's Contraptions.
"Rovio is famous, so everyone is interested in their next game. The company has good marketing and networks, which will help make the new game famous," said KooPee Hiltunen, director of Finnish gaming centre Neogames.
Last year the Finnish game-maker had a turnover of 75 million euros.
Elop: Nokia will stay in Oulu
Helsinki, June 27 (YLE)
The city of Oulu will retain a pivotal role in the development of basic mobile phones, says Nokia CEO Stephen Elop in an interview given to the provincial daily Kaleva.
His comments come after Nokia announced a total of 3,700 job cuts in Finland. Some 500 to 600 jobs are expected to go at Nokia's plants in Oulu. However, Elop did not confirm the actual number of redundancies in the interview.
Elop stressed the future depended on producing hit products for consumers.
The Nokia CEO also visited local Nokia directors and personnel representatives in Oulu on Tuesday.
Air Finland out of business
Helsinki, June 27 (YLE)
The 10-year-old airline and package tour operator has ended all operations and filed for bankruptcy.
In a brief statement on its website, the leisure airline expresses deep regret for the harm caused to its customers by the sudden announcement.
According to STT, there are now around 1,000 Air Finland customers abroad. The carrier flew to destinations in Spain, Portugal, Greece and Turkey as well as Dubai.
Finnish PM: Crisis has not gone away
Helsinki, June 18 (YLE)
Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen says that the government being formed in Greece must adhere to the obligations undertaken by the previous government. He stressed to Yle that the Greek elections did not solve the EU financial crisis.
Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen. Image: Yle "The crisis is still pressing. The election result is such that it did not make the crisis worse. A lot of uncertainty still hangs over Greece and many other countries," said Katainen on Monday.
Katainen considered it a good thing that the parties committed to an austerity programme did better at the polls than they did in May. He said that he hopes a government can be formed in Athens as soon as possible.
"That, for its own part, would alleviate uncertainty."
According to Prime Minister Katainen, the Greeks should be able themselves to reach agreement on stabilizing their economy.
"They have made international commitments with the IMF and with other eurozone countries, and it should be possible to be able to observe them," Katainen stressed.
Will Finland be first to quit the euro?
Helsinki, June 13 (YLE)
Finland is most likely to be the first country to leave the eurozone, according to the Wall Street Journal's MarketWatch. However there were no moves in this direction in Helsinki on Wednesday.
Columnist and author Matthew Lynn, head of the London-based Strategy Economics consultancy, argues that Finland has the most to gain by exiting the single currency.
In a column published on Wednesday, Lynn notes that as Finland is "a small nation with a strong economy" is would be easy for it to head for the door.
"Finland would be better off on the first day," he notes, adding that "it doesn't particularly have to worry about the impact on the European Union, in the way that Germany would if it opted out."
A Finnish departure, he predicts, would then prompt others to abandon the currency, thus defusing the euro crisis.
PM warns of "cold winter in middle of summer" for eurozone
Helsinki, June 8 (YLE)
Jyrki Katainen and Olli Rehn have both strongly defended the decision to approve a eurozone rescue for Spanish banks.
Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen says that all the other alternatives are all worse.
"The markets are frightened about how Spain will manage to recapitalise its banks. The problem must be removed so that the entire country does not get into trouble," Katainen told Yle on Sunday.
Speaking during a Nordic prime ministers' meeting in Norway's Lofoten Islands, Katainen declined to speculate on how much the Spanish support might cost Finland.
"No one has made that estimate yet," he said. "It depends on how much recapitalisation the Spanish banks need. The Spanish economy is about twice as large as that of Ireland, Portugal and Greece together. If the banks bring down Spain then we can be sure that a cold winter will begin in the middle of summer, including in Finland."
Court suspends Finnair strike
Helsinki, June 6 (YLE)
Technical workers are expected to return to work by Thursday at the latest following the decision. Trade Union Pro chair Antti Rinne explained that Finnair had sought an injunction to force the strikers back to work under the threat of a 2.8 million euro fine.
Rinne added that he felt the decision is not justified in law, and that the union will appeal. Finnair had applied for the precautionary strike ban without informaing the union. The employer did not want to comment on the matter.
Around 1,000 workers are affected by the strike, which concerns the support package on offer to workers threatened by redundancy as part of Finnair's plans to outsource its engine and component services.
Rinne said that negotiations on the restructuring had not progressed on Wednesday. He added that the strike could resume if the court's decision is overturned. The industrial action was supposed to last until next Wednesday.
Delays and cancellations are still possible, and passengers are advised to check the Finnair website.
Katainen enters lively NATO debate
Helsinki, June 6 (YLE)
According to Finland's Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen, Finnish NATO membership would not threaten Russian security. Katainen entered the debate during his visit to Washington DC.
"Finland is a free country," said the PM. "Both Finns and foreign guests can speak quite freely in our country, but Finland will make decisions on own own defence and security based on our own basis."
In Katainen's opinion it would be strange to think that Finland or other Nordic countries' co-operation with Nato could be a threat to Russia.
"There is always talk, added the head of government. "Finns will take responsibility for their own security."
Nokia refutes Google patent conspiracy charges
Helsinki, June 1 (YLE)
The phonemaker dismissed charges of patent brokering levelled by internet giant Google. Nokia partner Microsoft has dubbed the Google claims as 'desperate'.
Finnish handset manufacturer Nokia and its collaboration partner Microsoft have been named in a complaint to the European Commission by the internet giant Google, which claims that the companies violated anti-cartel laws by deliberately providing 1,200 patents to Canadian patent broker MOSAID.
Google alleges that the main objective of so-called patent trolls like MOSAID is to challenge other companies in costly patent infringement lawsuits.
Last year the beleaguered Finnish phonemaker earned 500 million euros from its patents. Google has charged that Nokia is trying to increase its revenues with the help of MOSAID.
Responding to the charges, Microsoft said that Google's claims were the "desperate tactics" of a business that holds 95 percent of the world's mobile phone advertising and search services
Aho: The euro in current form cannot survive
Helsinki, May 23 (YLE)
Europe today could use lessons learnt during Finland's recession in the 1990s, says then-premier and current Nokia leadership team member Esko Aho.
"We pursued cuts, got the national economy into shape, but at the same time we emphasised growth - most of all, through research and development. But we also benefited from active taxation and industry policies," Aho said in an interview with Yle's A-studio programme on Wednesday evening.
The former Prime Minister, who held the post in the tumultuous years 1991-1995, said that Finland's lessons would serve Europe well but at the same time pointed out that the euro in its current shape has no chances of survival.
"Keeping the euro will require special measures," Aho said.
Getting the national economies of crisis-hit states into order is a matter of the first priority, Aho said, adding that cuts and savings will not be enough. Economic growth is necessary, stressed Aho.
Over 200 Finnair employees moving to Flybe
Helsinki, May 22 (YLE)
Finnair is turning over a third of its European flights to its British partner. While flights will continue to be sold under Finnair's name, they will be operated by Flybe.
Last year Finnair and Flybe formed Flybe Nordic AB, of which Flybe owns 60% and Finnair 40%. The companies have now made arrangements according to which Finnair will transfer twelve 100 seat Embraer aircraft to Flybe. Starting October 2012 Flybe will operate these aircraft on Finnair routes for Finnair. The transfer also includes 100 cabin personnel and 120 pilots.
According to Finnair, a savings agreement completed with the Finnish Airline Pilots' Association, pilots transferring to operate Flybe flights would return to Finnair in stages to be trained as Airbus pilots for Finnair's growing Asian traffic.
The new arrangements are part of Finnair's efforts to improve the profitability of its European network, and intended as a platform for growth for Flybe Nordic. Finnair currently has a programme in place that targets 140 million euro annual savings to restore profitability and improve competitiveness.
PM: The Greeks must now decide
Helsinki, May 15 (YLE)
Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen does not consider a renegotiation of the Greek austerity programme a possibility. He sees Greece's withdrawal from the eurozone as possible, but something that should not be welcomed.
Katainen told Yle that Greece must be committed to savings measures, no matter what the outcome of new elections.
"Greece's drift into new elections raises a lot of good and serious questions. Unfortunately, there are few answers," said Katainen.
He went on to say that the pressing issue is what kind of cabinet a new election can bring Greece.
"Will it be the kind of government that says, 'We will not balance our own economy, but we want money from others?' That will not be possible."
According to the Finnish prime minister, Greece will have to commit to the savings programme, if it wants more money from other eurozone countries.
Starbucks coffee experience lands in Helsinki airport
Helsinki, May 15 (YLE)
The global Starbucks coffee chain opened its first outlet in Finland at the Helsinki airport Tuesday, after conquering new territory at airports in Sweden and Norway.
Finns - and airline passengers travelling through Finland - can finally indulge their taste for the Starbucks coffee experience with the opening of an outlet of the iconic global coffee shop chain at the Helsinki airport in Vantaa.
With first batches of steaming java barely poured into patrons' cups, another coffee shop is already in the works at the airport location, and is expected to begin serving up later this year. Beyond the airport hub, the company has not disclosed plans to set up shop in other parts of Finland.
Bank of Finland: Finland slipping into debt valley
Helsinki, May 8 (YLE)
The situation among Finnish households is particularly worrying, with many ordinary debtors burdened by loans that are disproportionately large compared to their incomes.
The Bank of Finland is worried about debt in Finland. Private individuals and the government are currently carrying a huge debt burden, government is spending more than it is earning, and the net external debt is growing.
These factors are posing great risks to the Finnish financial system and must be nipped in the bud, Deputy BoF Governor Pentti Hakkarainen said Tuesday.
The situation among Finnish households in particular is worrying, Hakkarainen said. Many ordinary debtors have loans that are disproportionately large compared to their incomes.
At the end of 2010, 4.5 percent of Finnish debtors had debts that represented a staggering 500 percent of their annual incomes, and the average debt totaled 250,000 euros. Such cases accounted for 17% of all debt.
Katainen: More questions than answers in Greece
Helsinki, May 7 (YLE)
The Finnish Prime Minister does not think France will shake the EU's common economic policy, but that post-election government talks will be tough in Greece.
He predicted that forming a new government in Greece may be difficult as the policies of the parties that scored the biggest gains are widely divergent. However, he expressed the hope that progress will be made as soon as possible.
Katainen said that the outcome of the French presidential election was to be expected.
He does not believe that under the new president, Francois Hollande, France will destabilize Europe's common economic policy.
During his campaign, Hollande promised to renegotiate the European fiscal compact to include provisions on jobs and growth. Katainen said that he believes that France and the rest of Europe have the same view on the importance of economic growth.
Nokia ex-chair Ollila: mistakes were made
Helsinki, May 5 (YLE)
Jorma Ollila, the former chairman of once-leading mobile phone maker Nokia, admits that mistakes were made, but says it's still not the end of the line for the company but says if the company had taken action ten years ago, it would be in a better position now.
Ollila, who recently stepped down as chairman of the ailing phone company, told Yle that his biggest mistake was in not being courageous enough with regard to the company's mobile phone software platform.
Ollila admitted that ten years ago the company had identified the need to beef up its capacity to develop mobile phone software, but had not done enough in this regard.
"Yes, it mostly began with the weakness of our software platform capabilities and the fact that it was not a European strength. We identified this ten years ago, towards the end of the 90s, at the beginning of 2000, that this should become Nokia's strength, but we were not able to build it," Ollila said.
The former Nokia chairman said that the company needed to find completely new ways to increase its software technology capabilities.
Angry Birds fly ever higher, Rovio expands
Helsinki, May 1 (YLE)
Espoo-based Rovio Entertainment says its latest launch, Angry Birds Space, hit 50 million downloads within 35 days, making it the fastest growing mobile game to date.
Angry Birds Space Image: Rovio Entertainment According to Rovio, Angry Birds Space has broken the record for all of its previous game versions. This latest move in the Angry Birds franchise is already available for smartphones, tablet computers, PCs and Mac computers.
Various versions of Angry Birds have had 700 million downloads.
Along with the game, Rovio Entertainment has been expanding at a rapid pace and now has operations in Tampere, Finland and Shanghai, China, in addition to its head offices in Espoo.
Last week, the company announced the acquisition of Futuremark Games Studio, the gaming arm of benchmarking software developer Futuremark. This is the second acquisition for Rovio in the past year, after the purchase of Kombo Animation Studio last summer.
Finland suggests visa-free train travel to Russia
Helsinki, April 25 (YLE)
Economic Affairs Minister Jyri Hakamies has come out in favour of visa-free travel between Finland and Russia, including on the high-speed Allegro rail service.
"The main goal has to be open travel between the EU and Russia," said Hakamies, who is looking to relax border formalities between Finland and its eastern neighbour.
He made the comments at a discussion forum in Kotka, some 70 kilometers from the Russian border, on Tuesday.
Trips up to three days made on the Allegro train, travelling between Helsinki and St. Petersburg, could be made visa-free, according to the minister. A similar arrangement is already in place for 72-hour cruises between the cities.
"Visa-free travel would attract more Russian tourists?and money?to Finland," he said.
Government wins vote of confidence
Helsinki, April 25 (YLE)
The government has won a vote of confidence over its contribution to the Greek bail-out fund. A total of 86 MPs supported the government with 56 parliamentarians voting against.
Chamber of the Finnish Parliament. Image: YLE The vote of confidence followed an interpellation measure criticising the government for supporting the recently negotiated bail-out fund for Greece. The motion was tabled by the Finns Party and backed by the entire opposition.
A debate on the motion took place on Tuesday but Parliament voted on the issue on Wednesday.
Lumia 900 up for pre-order
Helsinki, April 24 (YLE)
Nokia will begin taking Finnish orders for its latest Lumia phones midnight Tuesday.
The beleaguered mobile phonemaker has, however, not disclosed the price of the Windows-based Lumia models to be sold in Finland.
The Lumia 900 and 610 will hit Finnish retailers in May. Nokia says the Lumia 900 is optimised for social networking and surfing online while the 610 is targeted at youth.
The Lumia 900 launched in the United States over the Easter holiday weekend to lukewarm reviews.
State ownership officials often earn big board fees, too
Helsinki, April 18 (YLE)
Many state officials sit on the boards of state-owned companies - positions that can pay nearly as much as their salaries for their day jobs, an investigation by Yle reveals.
Its research indicates that nearly all of those earning top fees for sitting on boards work for the State Ownership Steering Department, which is part of the Prime Minister's Office.
The head of the unit, Pekka Timonen, was until recently a member of Finnair's board of directors -- until the minister in charge of state ownership, Heidi Hautala, fired the board over questionable bonuses.
Most of these bureaucrats hold two or three board positions. These 'moonlighting' positions can earn them as much as 80 percent of their regular state salaries.
Mauri Pekkarinen of the opposition Centre Party, who chairs the parliamentary Finance Committee, noted that his committee has urged that state officials hold no more than one board position along with their main job.
Other state-owned and associated companies operating under the Prime Minister's Office include Destia, Edita, Ekokem, Fingrid, Fortum, Gasum, Itella, Neste Oil, Patria, Solidium, Vapo and VR.
NSN begins issuing pink slips
Helsinki, April 17 (YLE)
On Tuesday, Nokia Siemens Networks began distributing redundancy notifications to employees whose contracts are being terminated.
The company aims to inform all those affected by the end of this week.
"Today those who will have to go began to receive personal notifications," confirmed Tuula Aaltola of the Federation of Professional and Managerial Staff (YTN). "They will now have time to consider whether to accept a package and resign or if they would rather be dismissed by the company. They have a few weeks now as the actual job cuts will take place in May."
A maximum of 630 people are being let go in Finland, down from an initial estimate of 700.
"More than 300 will have to go in Espoo, over 100 in Tampere and nearly 80 in Oulu," said Nokia Siemens Networks communications manager Riitta Mard.
Globally, the network company plans to slash its workforce by 17,000. The reductions in force are part of a strategic change whereby NSN is focusing on mobile networks and seeking to cut costs by one billion euros annually.
Nokia in damage-control mode after debt rating drop
Helsinki, April 16 (YLE)
Mobile phone giant Nokia moved to defend its cash position and cost-cutting plans on Monday after Moody's downgraded its debt rating.
The agency on Monday dropped the beleaguered company's long-term credit rating by one notch to Baa3 following last week's profit warning. Moody's also maintained a negative outlook on senior debt owed by Nokia.
Nokia's share has plunged more than one fifth since Wednesday when it said that heavy competition will hurt first-quarter earnings and that it foresaw no improvement in the second quarter.
On Monday its share price dipped below three euros on the Helsinki Stock Exchange
Elop pledges counterstrike
Helsinki, April 11 (YLE)
Nokia President and CEO Stephen Elop says the company will be taking sharp measures to turn recent earning trends around. The company will invest more in its Windows-based Lumia smartphone product family. In addition, new products are to be launched in the period of April through June. New pricing for lower-end phones is also to be part of the planned counterstrike.
"Within our Smart Devices business unit, we are increasing our investments in Lumia: to more consumers and to more markets," Elop told a phone conference aimed at investors.
According to Elop, the company's Mobile Phones unit will undertake "tactical pricing actions". The Mobile Phones unit produces Nokia's inexpensive basic cellphones.
The Nokia CEO also announced that more new products will be launched over the next few months.
"Thirdly, we will accelerate planned cost reductions and we will pursue significant structural actions if and when necessary," stated Elop.
Itochu To Invest In Metsä Fibre
Tokyo, April 10 (Nikkei)
Itochu Corp. has reached a basic agreement to acquire a 24.9% stake in major Finnish pulp maker Metsä Fibre for 472 million euros, or roughly 52 billion yen, The Nikkei learned Tuesday.
Pending approval from a local anti-monopoly authority, the Japanese trading house is looking to complete the transaction as early as next month. The purchase will make Itochu the second-largest shareholder after parent Metsa Group.
Itochu will gain rights to handle an additional roughly 1.1 million tons of Metsä Fibre's pulp. This will boost Itochu's total annual handling of pulp by roughly 50% to 3.25 million tons, pushing up its global market share to about 6% and solidifying its position as the No. 1 pulp handler in the world.
Metsä Fibre operates four pulp plants in Finland. Its annual output of 2.4 million tons makes it the world's fifth-largest pulp producer, and the second biggest in softwood pulp.
Metsä Fibre, which posted sales of roughly 140 billion yen in 2011, has mostly focused its sales efforts on Europe. By accepting Itochu's investment, the Finnish firm will be able to expand its presence in Asia, where demand for pulp continues to climb.
Bonus systems common in Finnish companies
Helsinki, April 9 (YLE)
Bonus schemes for all levels of staff are surprisingly common in Finnish companies, and the model continues to gain popularity in Finland.
"There are a lot of different kinds of bonus payment systems or other pay models tied to goals," said Tomi Rantamaki of the Institute of Total Rewards, a consultancy firm. "I estimate that up to 80 percent use some kind of bonus system."
The Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK) says that around half of its member companies' employees are covered by a profit-sharing system. The true figure is bigger if all possible bonuses or conditional pay systems are taken into consideration.
Bonuses generally amount to around one month's salary. In many companies upper management can be eligible for two months' pay as a bonus. There are, of course, companies that do not have a similar model or where the bonus targets have not been met.
Finland ranks third in global ICT study
Helsinki, April 5 (YLE)
Finland and the other Nordics are the world's best at capitalizing on information and communications technologies, according to a fresh report by the World Economic Forum (WEF). Sweden was ranked highest in networked readiness, followed by Singapore, Finland and Denmark.
The report lavishes praise for Finland, noting that its skilled population and pervasive technology placed it near the top of the table.
"ICT is ubiquitous and uptake by the population is quasi universal," said WEF's researchers.
The Geneva-based group also notes that over 80 percent of households in Finland own a PC and are connected to the internet.
"A staggering 87 percent (7th highest rate) of individuals are regular internet users and mobile broadband internet is already widespread, with 61 such subscriptions per 100 population."
The United States was in eighth place, with Canada and Britain rounding out the top 10 list.
The Networked Readiness Index combined data from publicly available sources with feedback from a survey of more than 15,000 executives.
Professor: Google's Hamina servers waste excess energy
Helsinki, April 4 (YLE)
Server farms in Finland currently recycle little of the energy they produce, according to an Aalto University professor. In many cases recovering the heat produced by IT infrastructure is seen only as a cost, even though the construction expenses can be repaid in a short period of time.
Jukka Manner, a professor of Information Network Technology at Aalto University, says that nearly all of the electricity server farms use is converted to heat energy.
According to Manner, a lot of people are not aware of all the emissions they themselves produce by surfing the internet. Users often think only in terms of their own equipment.
"Many people don't see the whole IT-infrastructure, that's needed in the background."
Google's major server farm in Hamina uses electricity produced from hydropower. That is positive, according to Manner, but the company could do even more.
"This is a huge source of energy that could be developed if the will was there," notes Manner. "In many cases the investment in energy-saving pays for itself in a year or two."
Google's Hamina servers have a permit to use enough electricity to heat 10,000 electricity-heated private homes.
Foreigners' welfare benefits under scrutiny
Helsinki, April 4 (YLE)
An increasing number of foreigners are applying for public welfare assistance in Finland. Last year 5,800 foreign citizens in Helsinki alone received income support to help make ends meet.
With 1,100 beneficiaries, Estonians make up the largest foreign group on welfare. Under Finnish law, residence permits can be denied if applicants rely on public assistance for permanent income, but in practice permits are rarely turned down on such grounds. At the moment, social workers are not allowed to notify the Finnish Immigration Service or the police if a foreigner receives income support.
The city of Helsinki has asked the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health to deliver clear guidelines on the matter.
Interior Minister Paivi Rasanen is meanwhile calling for a legislative change that would provide immigration officials with names of foreigners who are repeat welfare recipients.
Hundreds of Nokia's outsourced Symbian developers leaving Accenture
Helsinki, April 2 (YLE)
Hundreds of former Nokia employees at the consultancy firm Accenture have left the company and claimed severance packages. Accenture has offered the packages to workers who were only outsourced by Nokia last autumn. According to a shop steward's survey, up to 400 former Nokia workers have accepted the packages.
"Around 40 percent of those who were transferred have sought [the pay-offs]," said shop steward Sami Sallmen. "A majority of them have signed leaving agreements. That's based on the survey we commissioned."
Nokia transferred 1,200 Symbian developers to Accenture. They continued to work on the Symbian operating system while contracted to their new employer.
Sallmen says that there is now so little work that some Accenture employees are left twiddling their thumbs. The severance packages have been an agreeable offer for many outsourced developers.
Government to auction 4g network
Helsinki, March 29 (YLE)
The government is auction the 800 megahertz frequency band for 4g mobile services. Sales of the spectrum space could bring at least 100 million euros into state coffers.
Better wireless internet services will be available from the 4g network. Subscribers could be offered up to 26 megabytes also in remote areas.
Frenquecy spectrum auctions are common place in Europe. A trial auction was staged in Finland in 2009. The 4g network will be up for grabs by next year at the latest.
Some of the licences for the new network will include a condition to provide a service covering 95 percent of the population within three years and a 99 percent coverage within five years.
New Zealand Minister attacks Finns as uneducated, unemployed
Helsinki, March 25 (YLE)
New Zealand Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee poured scorn on Finland during a recent debate, calling Finns a nation of uneducated, unemployed people with a high murder rate and little respect for women.
Brownlee was speaking during a parliamentary debate, in which he strongly rejected plans by the Labour party to model the New Zealand economy on the Finnish example.
Brownlee claimed that Finland "has worse unemployment than us, has less economic growth than us, can hardly feed the people who live there, has a terrible homicide rate, hardly educates its people, and has no respect for women."
Brownlee later said that his comments were intended to be satirical, although spiked with a grain of truth. He added that Finns should not be offended by the debate, and according to local press, conceded that "there were some aspects of Finland's economic policy that you'd have to say are admirable".
Budget talks: Increase in VAT, changes to pensions and benefits
Helsinki, March 22 (YLE)
The government has announced an increase in value added tax (VAT) across the board by one percentage point. The increase will, for example, affect foodstuffs and medicine. Changes are also in store for pensions and unemployment benefits.
Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen indicated tax hikes will take precedence over saving cuts in the government's budget plans. Savings of 2.7 billion euros are envisaged by the government. These will be financied by 1.5 billion euros in tax increase and 1.2 billion euros in cuts.
Other measures include the imposition of a so-called solidarity wealth tax for those earning over 100,000 euros annually. A new tax level will be introduced for inheritances of over one million euros.
The government says the budget package also includes measures to encourage businesses and to improve training for the promotion of youth employment.
YLE survey: high executive pay - greed or a fair reward?
Helsinki, March 18 (YLE)
Recent headlines concerning senior executive pay and bonuses have prompted a lively debate on the subject of greed and fairness in Finnish society. YLE asked leading researchers as well as business representatives for their slant on the ongoing discussion about greed and high pay for executives.
Professor of History Markku Kuisma from the University of Helsinki said admiration of the greed currently nesting in the economy was dangerous. He welcomes discussion, for example, on the high salaries paid to top executives. Kuisma believes individuals should not be singled out in the discussion but rather the logic behind economic greed must be widely examined.
Sociology Professor Pertti Koistinen from the University of Tampere has recently lectured on the theme of the reasons and consequences for society from the economic downturn caused by the financial crisis. In his view, the news of recent days over executive pay shows just how far removed the monetary elite has become from the general public.
"This is part of a 20-year development during which wage differences have increased," he adds.
Director Matti Aponen at the pro-market think tank EVA hopes the question of greed will not become a permanent refrain preventing the analysis of larger and more complicated economic-related issues.
In his view, discussions over executive pay are justified but notes that rewarding for results is by no means wrong.
Lottery on steroids: Win up to 90 million euros
Helsinki, March 15 (YLE)
The Finnish Lottery (Veikkaus) is introducing Eurojackpot in Finland. The jackpot will start at 10 million euros but can roll over up to 90 million.
Eurojackpot is a new transnational European lottery, which is being rolled out in Germany, Denmark, Slovenia, Estonia and the Netherlands. Other countries may join later. The first drawing takes place on Friday, March 23 and each following Friday. Players can tune into YLE TV1 on Fridays at midnight to find out if they're a lucky winner.
Lotto players have been eager to participate in the new mega draw.
"Ninety million is an insane amount of money! It's difficult to grasp," says Kaisa Laulajainen.
"With so many countries, it's nearly impossible to win. But it's worth playing a few lines to see what happens," says Eeva Makela.
Finnish arts, sports, science and youth work benefit from lottery revenue.
Petrol prices at record high in Finland
Helsinki, March 12 (YLE)
Petrol prices in Finland have reached record high levels, according to officials from the petroleum refining and marketing company Neste Oil.
The company said Monday that the price of fuel is now higher than during a previous peak four years ago.
The average price per litre of 95 octane E10 petrol now stands at 1.677 euro, while it costs motorists an average 1.576 euro per litre to tank up on diesel.
According to Neste, four years ago fuel prices were inflated by a spike in the cost of crude oil. Nowadays, however, higher prices at the pump are being driven by a weaker euro and an increase in petrol taxes, said Sakari Toivola of Neste Oil.
"Currently the euro exchange rate means that in euros crude oil is at a record high price for us in Finland. Secondly, compared to the situation a few years ago, petrol taxes are now ten cents more per litre than they were then," Toivola explained during an interview on YLE's Aamu-Tv breakfast programme.
Finnair to sell off catering operations
Helsinki, March 12 (YLE)
Finland's national air carrier Finnair announced Monday that it plans to sell its catering operations to in-flight services provider LSG Sky Chef, a subsidiary of the German airline company Lufthansa.
If the deal is approved by the Lufthansa board and Finnish competition authorities, some 650 employees currently working for Finnair Catering and Finncatering Ltd will be transferred to their new employer LSG Sky Chefs. Finnair will in future purchase its catering services from the German company.
LSG Sky Chefs is the world's largest provider of airline catering and in-flight services and has 200 customer service centres in 50 countries. In 2010 it produced about 460 million in-flight meals for its customers.
Finnair said the deal will result in considerable annual savings and will support its ongoing programme structural changes aimed at achieving cost effectiveness and development of operational quality.
Finnair also announced that it has signed an agreement with the temping agency Adecco to provide flight crew. The first contracted flight attendants and stewards are to begin flying as summer workers at the beginning of June, after they complete training
Minister: Unemployment to rise in 2012
Helsinki, March 11 (YLE)
Labour Minister Lauri Ihalainen estimates that unemployment will grow in Finland this year. According to Ihalainen, the unemployment rate will reach beyond eight percent before the economy and foreign demand pick up.
"We suppose that total unemployment will be a little above 8 percent, while last year it was 7.4 percent on average," Ihalainen told YLE.
He also sees positive sides to the current situation. For example, significantly fewer layoffs have occurred so far than during the 2008 recession.
"Now we've got 30,000 people laid off. During the last recession, there were 90,000," Ihalainen points out.
However, he has expressed uncertainty as to how businesses will behave in the current economic crisis. It may take less for companies to resort to dismissing employees than it did in 2008-2009.
Made in Finland: New Russian sports car
Helsinki, March 5 (YLE)
Valmet Automotive is to commence production of a Russian sports car at its plant in Uusikaupunki in western Finland. The company is also manufacturing a luxury hybrid model for the American market.
Valmet Automotive and Marussia Motors have signed a deal for the planning and manufacture of the Marussia B2 sports car. Planning and product development work is to start this year.
The first models are expected to roll off the production line either at the end of 2012 or early next year. A dedicated production line will be set up at the Uusikaupunki plant for the model. Several hundred cars are to be manufactured annually.
Katainen opposes "cheese slicer" spending cuts
Helsinki, March 4 (YLE)
Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen does not back suggestions that state spending be trimmed in all sectors, the so-called "cheese slicer" approach to austerity measures. Katainen says it is better to make clear choices about where cuts are to be carried out.
In a YLE TV discussion programme on Saturday, the former director of the Research Institute of the Finnish Economy, Sixten Korkman, proposed that state spending be trimmed across the board. It is his view that a more equitable means of choosing where to save money is extremely difficult to find.
"It would be better if it were possible to make the kind of choices that would not require savings in the same way everywhere. This would be a better alternative."
The parties taking part in the coalition government, and the Finance Ministry, are currently looking for the best targets for spending cuts.
"We are seeking classic targets for cutbacks. Then we will have to raise some taxes. In addition, we are looking for permanent structural changes," said Katainen.
Finland's new president inaugurated Thursday
Helsinki, March 1 (YLE)
..President-elect Sauli Niinisto was sworn into office on Thursday. Ceremonies commenced at noon, with President Tarja Halonen and Niinisto arriving at parliament to address the legislature.
In the early afternoon, the pair, accompanied by their spouses, headed to the presidential palace, where they met senior defence and government officials, members of the diplomatic corps and the presidential staff. President Halonen also took her leave of the palace staff, leaving the stage to her successor Niinisto and his wife Jenni Haukio.
Meanwhile as Chief of Finland's Defence forces, Niinisto took the opportunity during his inauguration to respond to a call from the Finns Party to stop deep defence cuts announced by the government. Niinisto threw his weight fully behind the government proposal.
The new President also called on Finland to show the initiative during the upcoming reorganisation of the EU's foreign and security policy. As a politician with a strong economic background he reminded his audience of previous hard times and hoped the country's elite would show an example in the difficult times ahead.
Speaking later before the diplomatic corps, President Niinisto said Finland will continue its active role in the EU and is strongly committed to the promotion of peace and security.
Finns spent 10 billion euros online last year
Helsinki, February 29 (YLE)
Finns spent more than 10 billion euros on goods and services via the Internet in 2011. That's 10 percent more than online shoppers spent in 2010.
The lion's share of purchases were in Finnish-owned online stores.
Sales from foreign sites amounted to 13 percent of total sales.
Most of the euros spent online went to travel, but the amount of people buying foodstuffs online has increased significantly.
However, one of the traditional money makers on the Internet market, gambling, saw a decline in sales in Finland this year.
The overall trend last year was that trade over the Internet grew, but goods and services varied in comparison with the previous year.
Government mulls its savings strategy
Helsinki, February 28 (YLE)
Finnish government partners meet Tuesday to settle initial proposals for a programme of savings, spending cuts and tax increases.
The strategy boot camp will see coalition partners strive for consensus on how much government can afford to cut back on spending and which areas it can target.
Finance Ministry Permanent Secretary Raimo Sailas has calculated that government should aim to raise about five billion euros from expenditure cuts and tax hikes.
During government formation talks last year, coalition members agreed to channel 2.5 billion euros into state coffers during the current government term by way of increased taxation and savings.
The Social Democratic Party, one of the major government partners, has proposed applying a new temporary tax to persons with annual incomes in excess of 100,000 euros.
The conservative National Coalition, the other major coalition partner, would prefer to negotiate the introduction of any new taxes.
SDP wants 'solidarity tax' on high earners
Helsinki, February 25 (YLE)
SDP chair and finance minister Jutta Urpilainen has proposed an additional tax to be levied on those earning more than 100,000 euros. Urpilainen says that a solidarity tax to be levied on high-income individuals is an SDP goal in upcoming negotiations over the framework government budget.
Urpilainen told a party event in Vantaa that she does not believe that a solidarity tax would plug all the holes in the state budget, but that it would be an important demonstration of fairness.
The issue has been discussed with other parties for some time, according to Urpilainen. She also pointed out that similar taxes have been implemented in other countries.
Negotiations over the next government budget will be crucial, according to Urpilainen, as they will decide the direction of Finnish economic policy. She admits that savings must be made, but argues that belts shouldn't be tightened so much that economic growth and employment suffer.
A similar solidarity tax was proposed in the Finns' party's 'shadow budget' last autumn. It was nicknamed the 'Wahlroos tax' after the free market advocate, polemicist and banker, Bjorn Wahlroos. YLE estimated then that the 'Wahlroos tax' would apply to under 35,000 people out of a tax-paying population of around 1.7 billion.
Europeans' trust in Nokia weakens
Helsinki, February 22 (YLE)
Consumer confidence in Nokia phones has weakened both in Finland and the rest of Europe. The Finnish phone maker is, however, the most trusted mobile brand in Europe, according to a Reader's Digest survey.
Nokia was the most trustworthy brand in every country except France, where Samsung was consumers' go-to mobile phone.
Of the fifteen countries surveyed, only Croatia and Romania showed increased trust in Nokia in the last year. Trust weakened in the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Austria, Portugal, Poland, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Holland, Sweden and France.
Trust in Nokia remained steady in Russia. The Korean handset manufacturer Samsung was considered the most reliable mobile brand among eight percent of respondents, while Apple was most trusted by three percent of those surveyed.
Some 30,000 people were interviewed for the survey.
Finland found unattractive for investors
Helsinki, February 15 (YLE)
Finland has little to tempt investors with, according to a report released on Wednesday. The report says Finland's problems are to do with high taxation, lengthy bureaucratic processes and labour market policies that discriminate against foreign professionals.
Work-related immigration is not a success in Finland, according to the report, due to the rigid and discriminatory nature of the national work permit system. Meanwhile the country needs to attract a great number of foreign workers and international experts within the next few years.
Bureaucracy also poses an obstacle. In the big cities, at least, committee considerations and circulations of proposals for comments can take up an inordinate amount of time, from the investors' point of view, the report says.
"For example, environmental assessment for industrial projects lasts unreasonably long - a fast track should be created for those," explains Jorma Eloranta, who compiled the report for the Ministry of Employment and the Economy.
The report suggests several measures to increase Finland's attractiveness to investors. Among them are tax incentives for research and development projects and changes to energy tax. An increased use of Finland's forests is another recommendation. As an example, the report points to the development of biofuel by forest industry giants UPM and Fortum.
Eloranta has previously served at the helm of numerous Finnish companies. He was the CEO of the Finnish engineering company Metso in 2004-2011 and now serves as Senior Advisor at the business management consultancy Eera.
Finnair, JAL to expand codeshare cooperation/JAL to fly to Helsinki from March 2013
Helsinki, February 15 (Finnair and other sources)
Finnair's oneworld partner Japan Airlines (JAL) will start flying from Tokyo to Helsinki four times per week beginning March 2013. Finnair and JAL have operated codeshares together for several years, and the new flight deepens their cooperation. JAL is planning timetables so that flights arriving in the afternoon in Helsinki will have optimal transfers to Finnair's onward European connections.
In current codeshare arrangements between the two airlines, four flights operated by JAL to destinations in Japan (Haneda, Fukuoka, Sapporo and Okinawa) also carry Finnair flight numbers. JAL meanwhile has its own flight numbers for all Finnair flights between Helsinki and Japan (Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya) as well as for 11 onward Finnair flights to European destinations.
"We wish JAL a warm welcome in Finland," says Finnair President and CEO Mika Vehvilainen. "We are happy to expand our well-functioning cooperation and to strengthen even further our position in Asia."
JAL will serve the Tokyo Narita-Helsinki route four times-weekly from March 2013, departing Tokyo at 11:45 on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, arriving at 15:05, with the return leg leaving Helsinki at 17:25, landing back into Tokyo at 10:05 the following day. Daily operations are expected withing the first half of 2013.
JAL will be using a long range B787-800 Dreamliner for the route to Helsinki. The B787 will accommodate only 186 passengers compared with a designed capacity of 240. The low density layout will comprise 144 seats in economy (configured 2-4-2) with 42 in business class (2-2-2). No first or premium economy seating is provided and no details are available about what type of business class seating will be installed.
Finnair announces changes to economy class check-in
Helsinki, February 13 (YLE)
National carrier Finnair says passengers travelling in economy class will soon have to check in for flights themselves. The company is revamping its departure desk services at Helsinki Airport.
The airline says that passengers travelling in economy class will no longer be able to check in at airport desks, but must use automated check-in machines or the company's website.
Several airlines, including Finnair, operate automatic check-in machines at which passengers process their departure documentation before proceeding with their luggage to baggage drop points.
Finnair says the company aims to introduce more automated check-in machines at Helsinki Airport between April and June. No exact date for the closure of economy class check-in desks has been given.
Some desks will be retained for special circumstances and first-class travellers
Finnair seeks partner for European flights
Helsinki, February 9 (YLE)
National carrier Finnair is planning major changes to its European routes' operations. The airline is seeking a business partner for Nordic flights, and possibly all European flights. In the future, Finnair says it plans to focus on long-haul flights, particularly to Asia.
The 89-year-old company is seeking substantial savings from organisational changes to its European operations, which have been creating losses for years.
Finnair says it will start negotiations with "potential partners," but has not yet disclosed who this might include. However the airline says its new partner should become clear within the next couple of months.
Most of Finnair's local domestic flights are already handled by the British-owned carrier Flybe.
According to CEO Mika Vehvilainen, "Our aim is to create a new Nordic airline that will compete against the current players with cost-efficient, quality products. It would be a carrier with 100-150 planes and it would operate from several different hubs around the Nordic region. Along with Finnair, it would include some market-leading partner."
According to the carrier, joint operations would strengthen Finnair's position in the Nordic countries. Vehvilainen says that as a small company, Finnair cannot do everything on its own. He notes that Nordic cooperation will also help Finnair's air business to Asia.
Nokia to halt assembly at Salo plant
Helsinki, February 8 (YLE)
Mobile giant Nokia announced on Wednesday morning that it will end all device assembly at its factory in Salo, south-western Finland. Nearly 1,000 people will lose their jobs, or about half of manufacturing staff at the plant. Unions have called on Nokia to take responsibility for helping those affected to find new work. Nokia says it is to draw up a plan with local authorities in Salo to help those who are losing their job.
The change will also affect plants in Hungary and Mexico. All assembly will be shifted to the company's factories in Asia. The facilities in Europe and Mexico will concentrate on smartphone product customization for Western markets.
"With the planned changes, our factories at Komarom, Reynosa and Salo will continue to play an important role serving our smartphone customers," said Niklas Savander, Nokia's Executive VP, Markets, in a statement. "They give us a unique ability to both provide customization and be more responsive to customer needs."
The company says the moves will affect some 4,000 employees in the three countries. Job cuts will be carried out by the end of this year.
President for 18 euros an hour
Helsinki, February 7 (YLE)
When Sauli Niinisto steps into office he will pull down an annual income of 160,000 euros. But this handsome salary breaks down into an hourly salary of just 18 euros, when taking into account that the head of state is on call 24/7 and has no annual leave.
The president also has some 200,000 euros to use for his own trips abroad as the country's ambassador. The budget for official state visits and trade trips amounts to 2.9 million euros.
Finland's first couple has three official residences, all rent-free. The main residence, Mantyniemi, which has been president Tarja Halonen's home for the past 12 years, will undergo minor repairs before Sauli Niinisto and Jenni Haukio move in to the house in Helsinki's Meilahti district.
The president's Kultaranta summer residence is located in Naantali just outside of Turku. This is also where the president's Kultaranta VIII boat is docked. The presidential palace on the Market Square by Helsinki's south harbour is mainly used for official state receptions.
Election Victory: 62.6% for Niinisto
Helsinki, February 5 (YLE)
Finnish voters elected National Coalition Party candidate Sauli Niinisto as the nation's 12th president in a decisive second round on Sunday. Niinisto's victory came with 62.6% of the vote to 37.4% for his rival, Green League candidate Pekka Haavisto.
Results with 100 % of the vote counted
Sauli Niinisto - 62.6 %
Pekka Haavisto - 37.4 %
The win by the National Coalition's Sauli Niinisto will bring to an end a 30-year era of Social Democratic Party presidents in Finland.
Niinisto won a majority in 14 of the country's 15 electoral districts. The only district in which Haavisto won was Aland where the vote split 60 - 40 in his favour. Locally, the closest battle was in Helsinki where Niinisto won 50.3%. His largest lead at 72.3% was in Vaasa.
Green League candidate Pekka Haavisto conceded defeat in his bid for the presidency when about 80% of the vote had been counted and it was evident that Niinisto had polled over 60%.
Despite a final spurt in Haavisto's campaign, support simply did not grow enough to bring him a victory. Even so, Haavisto said he was satisfied with the count.
"From the summer's five percent it is a good rise. Over a million people gave me their backing."
Outokumpu confirms massive steel deal
Helsinki, January 31 (YLE)
Finnish metals giant Outokumpu is poised to become the world's largest producer of stainless steel following a major acquisition announced on Tuesday. It is buying the German conglomerate ThyssenKrupp's stainless steel business in a deal worth 2.7 billion euros.
The Finnish company will pay a billion euros in cash for the Inoxum unit, which has annual sales of more than six billion euros and more than 11,000 employees.
The deal, to be financed by a billion-euro rights issue of new Outokumpu stock, will lead to the loss of some 850 jobs in Germany.
ThyssenKrupp, whose estimated market share of 35 to 40 percent in Europe made it the top stainless steel producer in the region, will retain a 30-percent stake in the enlarged Outokumpu.
Its share price slumped by more than 10 percent after details of the deal were announced, while ThyssenKrupp's rose.
NSN to cut up to 1200 jobs in Finland
Helsinki, January 31 (YLE)
Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN), the world's second-largest maker of mobile phone network equipment, is looking to cut up to 1,200 jobs in Finland. The move is part of a global restructuring programme, which aims to cut nearly a quarter of its workforce and to save about one billion euros a year.
The reductions will affect all NSN locations in Finland. The workforce in Espoo may be cut by around 700, in Oulu by some 150 and in Tampere by around 350. At present, Nokia Siemens Networks employs approximately 6,900 people in Finland.
Worldwide, NSN may reduce personnel by as many 17,000. In total it employs some 74,000 people.
Under a new strategy announced in November, Nokia Siemens Networks will focus on wireless broadband, customer experience management and services.
Finland seeks compromise at EU summit
Helsinki, January 31 (YLE)
EU leaders gathered in Brussels on Monday for a summit aimed at the adoption of the permanent bailout fund and reaching an agreement over the new fiscal pact. Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen set off to the summit in search of a compromise on issues that could breed discord.
The official focus of the summit were growth and job creation in the EU, but they were overshadowed by worries over Greek debt and smoothing out the details of the new fiscal pact, which would involve writing balanced budget rules into the participants' national law. Arm-wrestling between eurozone and non-eurozone states could ensue as the latter say that, upon entering the pact, they want to have the right to participate in eurozone summits.
Finland, represented at the summit by Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen, hoped to see compromise on the thorny issues, including the one of non-eurozone members' participation in eurozone summits.
Voters turn out at home and abroad
Helsinki, January 29 (YLE)
Advance voting in the second round of the presidential election has continued at a brisk pace. Voters were given the opportunity to start casting ballots on Wednesday. As of Saturday evening, 23% of eligible voters had visited the polls. Finns living abroad have also shown unusually high interest in voting.
Six years ago, at the same point, advance voting in the second round of the 2006 presidential election was at 19.7%.
Women have been more active than men in casting advance votes.
Traditionally, more votes are cast in advance in the second round of Finnish presidential elections.
Advance balloting continues through Tuesday. Election day is Sunday, February 5th.
Nokia Q4: Fewer smartphones sold
Helsinki, January 26 (YLE)
Fourth quarter 2011 Nokia smartphone sales declined sharply. According to results published on Thursday, smartphone sales fell 31 percent from a year earlier to 19.6 million handsets.
Nokia on Thursday reported what it called "solid" Q4 performance in mobile phones and a strong balance sheet, with net cash and other liquid assets of EUR 5.6 billion at the end of Q4 2011. The Nokia board of directors will be proposing a dividend of 0.20 euros per share for 2011.
Nokia's fourth quarter core earnings per share of 0.06 euros compared to market expectation for 0.04 euros.
Fourth quarter smartphone sales were down to 19.6 million handsets, compared to 28.6 million for the same period of 2010. Nokia said that it had sold about one million of its new Windows-based Lumia series smartphones.
Nokia unveiled a high-profile strategy shift to Microsoft software on its smartphones last February in a bid to rival Apple and Google's Android. Apple this week released record quarterly results, reporting profits of 13 billion dollars during the last three months of 2011.
Altogether, Nokia Q4 mobile phone sales totalled 113.5 handsets, a decline from the 123.7 million sold during the final quarter of last year.
Even so, results were better than expected and the Nokia share price rose by around 7 percent on the Helsinki Stock Exchange immediately after figures were released.
Outokumpu in merger talks with ThyssenKrupp
Helsinki, January 23 (YLE)
Finnish metals giant Outokumpu confirmed on Monday that it is negotiating with German conglomerate ThyssenKrupp on a possible merger of their stainless steel businesses. Outokumpu owns Europe's largest stainless steel mill, located in the northern city of Tornio.
"Following recent speculation, Outokumpu confirms preliminary discussions with ThyssenKrupp to evaluate potential strategic options, including a potential business combination of Outokumpu and Inoxum," the company said on Monday morning.
Outokumpu's share price rose 7.4 percent after ThyssenKrupp confirmed the talks.
The German newspaper Rheinische Post was first to report that ThyssenKrupp plans to merge its stainless unit Inoxum with Outokumpu, citing senior company sources at ThyssenKrupp.
ThyssenKrupp aims for a minority stake in the newly formed entity, the paper added.
ThyssenKrupp is close to selling its stainless steel arm and a deal could come as early as February, an investment banking source with direct knowledge of the process said earlier this month.
Presidential elections: Niinisto, Haavisto headed for second round
Helsinki, January 22 (YLE)
Pekka Haavisto and Sauli Niinisto will face off for the presidency on February 5th.
With 100% of the votes counted, the election has shaped up as a first-round victory for National Coalition Party candidate, former finance minister Sauli Niinisto, who will face off against internationally minded Green League candidate Pekka Haavisto in the second round on February 5th.
Results with 100% of the vote counted
Sauli Niinisto (NCP) 37.0%
Pekka Haavisto (GREEN) 18.8%
Paavo Vayrynen (CEN) 17.5%
Timo Soini (FINNS) 9.4%
Paavo Lipponen (SDP) 6.7%
Paavo Arhinmaki (LA) 5.5%
Eva Biaudet (SPP) 2.7%
Sari Essayah (CD) 2.5%
Finns Party candidate Timo Soini conceded defeat as soon as the first initial results were released at 8pm.
Soini called his own his own fourth place in advance voting "expected".
"Not good, but satisfactory," Soini said of the 9.5% of the advance vote that he gleaned.
Lipponen: "Could have gone better"
Social Democratic Party candidate Paavo Lipponen said that the election could have gone better for him. However, he noted that early results of 7.3% looked better than what the polls had forecast.
.Gasoline prices continue steady rise
Helsinki, January 18 (YLE)
The average price of 95-octane gasoline in Finland has now reached more than 1.60 euros per litre.
The steady increase is, in part, due to the strengthening of the US Dollar.
Since the end of last year?just a few weeks?gasoline and diesel prices have risen on average by six cents a litre.
A new diesel tax that went into effect at the start of 2012 brought the price difference between gasoline and diesel to around five cents.
Halonen raises property purchases with Putin
Helsinki, January 18 (YLE)
Finland's president, Tarja Halonen, is currently in Moscow winding down the last weeks of her presidency. While Halonen, her Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin are on first-name terms, the trio did not evade difficult questions when they met on Tuesday.
One such issue is land deals. Russia has banned real estate sales to foreigners in most of the areas bordering Finland. There had been hopes in Finland that Russia would reciprocate Finns' relaxed attitude towards Russians buying property in the east of Finland.
Halonen hinted to Putin that real estate deals could be eased for Finns in Russia. The Russian leader asked for examples of the difficulties faced by Finns, which the Finnish leader agreed to provide. Finnish irritation at property policies for foreigners in Russia has not previously been raised at such a high level.
Finnish consumer confidence improves
Helsinki, January 16 (YLE)
Consumer confidence in the Finnish economy did not weaken in the final quarter of last year, but improved slightly, according to a poll by EPSI Rating.
The research organisation says Finns' sunnier outlook can be attributed to less bad news from Europe at the end of the year than last summer, when Finnish consumer sentiment nosedived.
While the outlook now is slightly brighter, Finns do not expect to see much improvement in the country's economic situation, according to the survey.
Those with the smallest incomes, such as students and the unemployed, were the most upbeat about prospects for their own and the country's finances.
Across the Nordics, consumer sentiment remains weak in relation to indicators from 2010. EPSI's survey data suggests Russia is the only country in the region experiencing a significant increase in confidence.
EPSI surveyed 5,000 Finns between October and December 2011.
Fewest annual working hours in the EU
Helsinki, January 16 (YLE)
A statistical analysis published by the French economic research institute Coe-Rexecode shows that the Finns and French work fewer hours a year than do employees in any other part of the EU. Romanians and Hungarians meanwhile work the most.
According to figures from Coe-Rexecode, a private French research institute, Finns who are employed full time in steady jobs work only 1,670 hours a year. The French spend nine more hours on the job annually. In Sweden, the figure is 1,719 hours, which is also below the EU average.
At 2,095 a year, Romanians clock the most hours, with Hungarians in second place. Germans, on average, spend 1,904 hours a year at work.
The results from Coe-Rexecode are based on basic figures for 2010 published by the European statistical centre Eurostat.
However, the original Eurostat statistics do not reflect the actual time employees spend at work, as they do not include a deduction of hours for sick leaves, parental leaves or other reasons for being away from work. Researchers at Coe-Rexecode also re-classed figures to separate statistics for full time employees from those for part-time employees and entrepreneurs.
Urpilainen wants rich to shoulder debt crisis
Helsinki, January 12 (YLE)
Finance Minister and SDP chair Jutta Urpilainen would like to increase taxes on wealthy Finns. Urpilainen says that higher taxes on the rich would make ethical and economic sense in the current difficult conditions.
Urpilainen pointed out that a more equitable income distribution would improve competitiveness and help guarantee social harmony.
"Are the other parties and candidates ready to take real action to make high-earners pay their share?" asked Urpilainen. "That is the question in these negotiations."
The government is to start discussions on the budget agreement this spring to decide where to cut spending and raise taxes.
Urpilainen echoed SDP presidential candidate Paavo Lipponen in saying that it is time the affluent in society bore more of the load, as she claimed it would now make ethical and financial sense to increase taxes on those better equipped to pay them.
She added that the current European economic difficulties are a result of debt-driven right-wing policies, and said that political values are especially important in hard times.