Finnvera Plc Stock Exchange Release 16 March 2018, at 17:15On 16 March 2018, Finnvera's Annual General Meeting elected new members to the company's Supervisory Board. No changes were made to the composition of the Board of Directors.The new members of the Supervisory Board are Pia Kauma and Anne Louhelainen, Members of Parliament; and Timo Saranpää, Chairman.Antti Rantakangas, Member of Parliament will continue as Chairman and Krista Kiuru, Member of Parliament as Vice Chairman of the Supervisory Board. Pia Björkbacka, Adviser for International Affairs; Eeva-Johanna Eloranta, Member of Parliament; Lasse Hautala, Member of Parliament; Laura Huhtasaari, Member of Parliament; Timo Kalli, Member of Parliament; Leila Kurki, Senior Adviser; Veli-Matti Mattila, Chief Economist; Ville Niinistö, Member of Parliament; Carita Orlando, Managing Director; Olli Rantanen, Team Manager; Eero Suutari, Member of Parliament; and Tommi Toivola, Senior Adviser will continue as members of the Supervisory Board.Pentti Hakkarainen, Member of the Supervisory Board, ECB Banking Supervision, will continue as Chairman, Pekka Timonen, Director General, as First Vice Chairman and Terhi Järvikare, Director General, as Second Vice Chairman of Finnvera's Board of Directors. The following persons will continue as Board members: Kirsi Komi, LL.M.; Ritva Laukkanen, MBA; Pirkko Rantanen-Kervinen, B.Sc (Econ.); and Antti Zitting, Enterprise Councellor, Chairman of the Board.The Annual General Meeting adopted the Consolidated Financial Statements and the Parent Company’s Financial Statements for the period 1 January–31 December 2017, discharged the Supervisory Board, the Board of Directors and the Chief Executive Officer from liability, and approved the proposal made by the Board of Directors for the use of the parent company’s profits.KPMG Oy Ab was re-elected Finnvera’s regular auditor with Juha-Pekka Mylén, Authorised Public Accountant, as the principal auditor.Further information:Pauli Heikkilä, CEO, tel. +358 29 460 2400Risto Huopaniemi, Senior Vice President, Administration, Legal Affairs and Administration tel. +358 29 460 2520
STOCK EXCHANGE RELEASE 8.3.2018 12:30Finnvera issued on 7th March 2018 a EUR 1 billion long 15-year bond. The subscriptions rose to more than EUR 1.3 billion with approximately 50 investors.The July 2033 maturity represents Finnvera’s longest bond issue so far.Lead managers for the issue were Crédit Agricole CIB, Danske, Deutsche Bank and Nordea. The greatest demand came from investors in Germany and France.Finnvera uses the funds for financing export credits as well as the domestic SME sector.The bond was issued under Finnvera’s EMTN (Euro Medium Term Note) programme. The programme is guaranteed by the State of Finland.The rating of Finnvera’s EMTN Programme corresponds to the rating assigned to the State of Finland for its long-term liabilities. The rating given by Moody’s to Finnvera is Aa1 and that given by Standard & Poor’s is AA+.Additional information:Ulla Hagman, CFO, tel. +358 29 460 2458Mikael Nordgren, Head of Treasury, tel. +358 29 460 2467
Finnvera’s annual report has been published online. The annual report describes the essential business operations, corporate responsibility and financial information in 2017, among other things.The theme of the annual report is impact.Finnvera’s corporate responsibility report is included in the annual report. Finnvera has compiled the reports in accordance with the G4 Guidelines of Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). In our reporting, we concentrate on key issues in terms of the company’s operations and its stakeholders and we adhere to the reporting guidelines of State-owned companies whenever applicable.As in previous years, the annual report is published online and it is available in Finnish and in English.Read the annual report here.
Stock Exchange Release 20.2.2018Export financing grew strongly – future deliveries by export companies accounted for more than half of the exposureCEO Pauli Heikkilä:“In the important export sectors, especially in shipping, telecommunications, energy and forestry sectors, the outlook is good. In the EUR 22.2 billion exposure for large corporates’ export credit guarantees and special guarantees, drawn guarantees and credits accounts for approximately EUR 9.0 billion. More than half of the exposure is tenders or agreements that are related to future deliveries by export companies. Demand extending this far into the future has not been previously witnessed at Finnvera.Throughout its history, Finnvera’s export credit guarantee operations have been self-sustainable and our performance has been profitable, which has enabled our export credit guarantee operations to accumulate approximately EUR 1.4 billion in buffer assets for potential future losses. In line with our goals, the result for the financial period 2017, EUR 107 million, showed a profit. This improves our ability to cover current and future commitments. We constantly develop our risk management, and we invest heavily in reinsurance and other risk transfer methods.Economic activity and investments picked up also in Finland; however, this did not directly lead to growth in Finnvera’s SME and midcap financing. For its part, the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) replaces or complements our financing offering, and EFSI financing has proved to be easily found by Finnish enterprises. This is a good indication of corporate financing options becoming more versatile.In line with our strategy, we target our financing first and foremost at corporate changes, that is, setting up a company, growth, internationalisation and transfers of ownership. Currently, 80 per cent of our financing is already allocated to our focus areas. Impact is one of the key indicators of our success. The common denominator in impact is the fact that enterprises grow and become more international in a manner that would not have been possible without Finnvera.”Finnvera Group, business operations and the financial trend, 2017 (vs. 2016) Loans and guarantees granted: EUR 782 million (EUR 845 million), change -7% Export credit guarantees and special guarantees granted: EUR 7,693 million1 (EUR 4,438 million), change 73% Export credits granted: EUR 6,555 million1 (EUR 760 million), change 763% Exposure, loans and guarantees for SMEs and midcap enterprises: EUR 2,129 million (EUR 2,232 million), change -5% Exposure, export credit guarantees and special guarantees, incl. SME and midcap export credit guarantees: EUR 22,562 million (EUR 18,426 million), change 22%of which drawn guarantees amount to EUR 9,136 million (EUR 9,659 million), change -5% Exposure, export credits: EUR 4,758 million2 (EUR 4,782 million), change -1% Net interest income and net fee and commission income: EUR 174 million (EUR 194 million), change -11% Impairment losses on receivables, guarantee losses, incl. the State’s credit loss compensation: EUR 19 million (EUR 66 million), change -72% Finnvera Group’s profit for the period: EUR 107 million (EUR 70 million), change 52% Equity EUR 1,314 million (EUR 1,207 million), change 9% Balance sheet total: EUR 10,337 million (EUR 9,498 million), change 9% 1 One of the factors behind the significant increase in the financing granted was individual major tenders in shipping and telecommunications.2 The credit risk for Finnish Export Credit Ltd’s export credits is covered by the parent company Finnvera plc’s export credit guarantee.Finnvera Group, year 2017 (vs. 2016) Cumulative self-sustainability has been realised according to the goals,Finnvera's operations have been economically self-sustainable during company's almost 20 years of operation. Return on equity, ROE1–12/20178,5% (6,0%) Return on assets, ROA1–12/20171,1% (0,8%) Reserve for domestic operations31 Dec. 2017214 M€ (155) Reserve for export credit guarantees and special guarantees 688 M€ and SGF3 673 M€ 31 Dec. 20171 361 M€ (1 334) Equity ratio31 Dec. 201712,7% (12,7%) Capital adequacy, Tier 1, domestic operations 31 Dec. 201725,3% (22,4%) Expense-income ratio1–12/201727,2% (27,0%) Number of employees31 Dec. 2017375 (381) 3) SGF=The State Guarantee FundFinnvera Group’s profit for H2/2017 was EUR 50 million (EUR 77 million) and for the entire year EUR 107 million (EUR 70 million). The result for the entire year 2017 was EUR 36 million, or 52 per cent, more than in the previous year. Profit was boosted by the fact that the parent company Finnvera plc’s impairment losses on receivables and guarantee losses were EUR 53 million, or 56 per cent, lower than in the previous financial period. Finnvera Group Financial trend H2/2017 MEUR H1/2017 MEUR Change % H2/2016 MEUR 2017 MEUR 2016 MEUR Change MEUR Change % Net interest income 23 23 -2 % 24 46 50 -4 -8 % Net fee and commission income 61 66 -8 % 77 127 144 -17 -12 % Gains and losses from financial instruments carried at fair value through P&L -2 3 -177 % -10 1 -20 20 103 % Administrative expenses -21 -22 -4 % -22 -43 -44 -1 -2 % - of which personnel expenses -14 -15 -3 % -15 -29 -30 -1 -4 % Impairment loss on financial assets -22 -20 9 % -13 -41 -94 -53 -56 % Credit loss compensation from the State 12 11 6 % 13 23 28 -5 -19 % Operating profit 49 60 -18 % 77 109 69 39 57 % Profit for the period 50 57 -13 % 77 107 70 36 52 % Outlook for financingThe outlook for the Finnish economy for 2018 is good. According to the Bank of Finland’s forecast, GDP will grow by 2.5 per cent this year. Demand for financing is expected to remain high in the entire SME and midcap sector, and the availability of financing is estimated to stay at a good level this year, too. Finnvera’s goal is still to shift the focus of SME and midcap financing to growing and internationalising enterprises, enterprises seeking change, transfers of ownership, and start-ups. The campaign to accelerate transfers of ownership continues, and demand for financing for transfers of ownership and company acquisitions will probably remain high, as in previous years.Another goal is to increase the number of SMEs involved in exports and target advisory services at such SMEs, in order to enable them to prepare for risks associated with export trade transactions. We expect that this will increase demand for financing this year.Financing solutions offered to buyers play a pivotal role in the export trade of capital goods sold by large corporates. Demand for export credit guarantees and export credits is expected to remain strong in 2018. As in previous years, the overall demand is affected by the realisation of individual major projects. Demand is expected to be strong especially in shipping, forestry and telecommunications sectors. Regionally, the strongest demand is anticipated to occur in the United States and Latin America. Finnish enterprises’ interest in the Russian market took an upward turn in 2017, and further demand is expected for 2018.It is estimated that the implementation of the strategy throughout the Group will proceed as planned in 2018 and that operations will be self-sustainable in the current financial period as well. The trends in impairment losses on receivables and in guarantee losses involve some uncertainty. In consequence, the results realised may differ from the forecasts even significantly.Further information:Pauli Heikkilä, CEO, tel. +358 29 460 2400Ulla Hagman, CFO, tel. +358 29 460 2458Report of the Board of Directors and Financial Statements for 1 January–31 December 2017 (PDF)Statement on the Corporate Governance and Steering System 2017 (PDF)
When financing exports, Finnvera considers environmental and social impacts as part of the overall risk assessment of the projects financed. The assessment of the environmental and social risks plays an important role in financing projects carried out abroad. At Finnvera, assessments are conducted by Lauri Etelämäki (on the right), Environmental Adviser, and Timo Hankala, Human Rights Adviser, who started working in this position in autumn 2017. The assessment is a concrete way of ensuring that the company operates responsibly, and work is driven by the aim of achieving transparency. What does your job description involve? Lauri and Timo: We assess and screen the environmental and human rights risks of projects. First, we get to know the projects on the basis of the information we have received and assess risks potentially related to them.After this, we make an on-site visit, if necessary, and assess what kinds of management approaches the sites have for managing risks. In 2017, we conducted an actual environmental and human rights risk assessment for approximately ten projects. If a project involves excessive risks, that usually becomes evident right at the beginning of the assessment. We come across at most a couple of cases like this per year.Which aspect of your work do you like the most? Timo: As Human Rights Adviser, I feel my work is important as I contribute to responsibility in projects. Moreover, each project is one of a kind even though they are assessed using the same standards.Lauri: I agree with Timo, and I would also like to add that as my work is so concrete I can clearly see the results I achieve. For me personally, a great source of motivation is the impacts that the projects have. Some projects are enormous and offer a chance to exert more extensive influence on the operating methods of the sector in question, even at a national level.Which is the most memorable project you have been involved in? Timo: The project that enabled us to exert influence on the operating methods of a major state company. It is truly rewarding to see how our work can lead to big changes.Lauri: We use external consultants in risk assessment, and sometimes there may be differing views about the selection of consultants in projects. I remember a project where there was heated debate about replacing the consultant with another one, but, in the end, our view was listened to. The consultant we selected has managed to significantly improve the operating methods in the project and even in the company when it comes to environmental and social issues.What is your greatest professional success? Lauri: I think my greatest success is the project I just mentioned, where the consultant’s assessment can be said to have changed the company’s attitudes towards environmental and social issues.Timo: I have been in my current role for such a short period of time that it is still difficult to answer this question. In my earlier Senior Legal Counsel role at Finnvera, I was involved in a project where our power plant project looked—in a positive sense—completely different, both inside and outside, from neighbouring power plants. That made a lasting impression on me.Can you see certain broader trends related to project reviews or responsible financing? Timo: In the field of human rights, a clear trend is the increasing transparency requirements, especially from NGOs. In addition, human rights requirements for enterprises and projects are constantly evolving and becoming more extensive. The hard-to-measure management of risks related to human rights and a systematic approach to it are still at the development stage.Lauri: As far as different sectors are concerned, there seems to be quite a mining boom going on, particularly in Latin America. Mining projects are very extensive and among the most demanding projects. Their realisation requires a lot of area, which may have a very significant impact on biodiversity and the life of local people.The project requirement level also keeps on rising, especially as projects grow in size and move to high-risk countries and as Finnvera’s risk management develops. This requires constantly more from us experts.Further information:Policy for reviewing the environmental and social impacts of projectsResponsible financing
Finnvera’s export financing grew strongly in 2017. Finnvera granted nearly 80 per cent more export credit guarantees and special guarantees than in the previous year. The volume of export credits also increased significantly, to EUR 6.6 billion. Financing concentrates especially on the shipping and telecommunications sectors, where Finnvera was involved in the largest financing projects in its history. In SME and midcap financing, the focus is on growing and internationalising enterprises. Investments accounted for an increasingly large share of the overall projects of growing and internationalising enterprises in 2017. The number of the financed transfers of ownership also remained high.The volume of export credit guarantees, special guarantees and export credits grewIn 2017, granted export financing grew as expected: Finnvera granted export credit guarantees and special guarantees amounting to EUR 7.5 billion (EUR 4.2 billion), which is nearly 80 per cent more than in the previous year. The volume of export credits also increased significantly, with the amount granted by Finnvera totalling EUR 6.6 billion (EUR 0.8 billion).Finnvera’s authorisation to grant export credit guarantees rose to EUR 27 billion at the beginning of the year and the authorisation to finance export credits to EUR 22 billion, which made it possible to respond to the increasing demand for financing.The outlook for export industry is good. Especially in shipping, telecommunications, energy and forestry sectors, companies have orders booked even for years to come. In the EUR 22.2 billion exposure for export credit guarantees and special guarantees, drawn guarantees and credits accounted for approximately EUR 9 billion. This means that more than half of the exposure was tenders or agreements that are related to future deliveries by export companies and extend up to 2024.In 2017, Finnvera was involved in the largest ship financing transaction in its history, which was also its largest-ever individual financing project: Finnvera contributed more than EUR 2.5 billion to financing the order for ships by the shipping company Royal Caribbean Cruises.In the telecommunications sector, Finnvera was involved in providing approximately EUR 1.3 billion in financing for Nokia’s telecommunications equipment deliveries to the teleoperator Verizon. Financing was a result of cooperation between export credit agencies: the Canadian export credit agency Export Development Canada (EDC) also took part in the arrangement of financing. This financing arrangement carried out jointly by export credit agencies is the first of its kind.Major financing and export projects have a significant impact on employment both for the exporting company and the subcontracting network, and Finnvera is involved in financing the entire value chain of enterprises that operate in the key sectors of the Finnish export industry. An excellent example of the far-reaching impact of investments by large corporates is Metsä Fibre’s bioproduct mill inaugurated in Äänekoski in 2017.Financing for growth, internationalisation and transfers of ownership increasedIn 2017, Finnvera granted a total of EUR 963 million (EUR 1,040 million) in financing to SMEs and midcap enterprises, showing a year-on-year decrease of seven per cent. This decrease is mainly due to the fact that the European EFSI guarantee, used actively by banks, partly reduced the need to use Finnvera’s guarantees.However, Finnvera’s financing to growing and internationalising enterprises increased, in line with the strategy. The share of growing and internationalising enterprises out of all financing grew to 40 per cent (38%). In euros, the share was EUR 385 million.The investment activity of growing and internationalising enterprises took an upward turn in 2016, after a long period of decline, and both the number of projects financed and the EUR amount of investments financed continued to increase in 2017. In growing and internationalising enterprises, the euro-denominated share of investments in the overall projects financed increased to approximately EUR 180 million, or 19 per cent (17%) The increase in software and service concept exports can also be seen in the structure of investments—the share of intangible investments is growing in a trend-like manner.SME and midcap financing exposure was EUR 2.5 billion at the end of 2017.Transfers of ownership gained a lot of visibility during the year, which goes to show that the significance of company acquisitions for the vitality of business life and for the establishment of growth companies has been recognised. The number of transfers of ownership financed in 2017 was at the same level as in the previous year. Finnvera was involved in financing nearly 1,000 transfers of ownership with EUR 121 million (EUR 141 million).Finnvera will release its financial statements for 1 January–31 December 2017 on 20 February 2018. The Annual Report will be published on Finnvera’s website in Week 8.Further information:Pauli Heikkilä, CEO, tel. +358 29 460 2400
When talking with SMEs that export goods and services, it sometimes turns out that exporters have anything but a clear idea of the various risks and hedging options related to payment transactions and the financing of export trade. Therefore, we made a summary of a few tips for managing the risks in export trade. Do not forget to scroll down for a small challenge that helps to illustrate the solutions offered by Finnvera!The first step of risk management and the selection of the most suitable financing solution is an evaluation of the overall situation. To assist the evaluation, you can draw a timeline describing the lifecycle of the export trade transaction. This helps in determining the risks involved in each phase of the transaction and the cause of the risks identified.Risks can be classified into several different categories: They can be short- or long-term risks and relate to the period before, during or after delivery. When financing foreign trade, commercial risks, i.e. credit risks, and political risks, i.e. country risks, are often mentioned. Risks also vary according to the degree of customisation of the exported products. Examples of other types of risk include exchange risk caused by the use of different currencies and risk to the profit margin caused by the fluctuating prices of raw materials. The legislation of the buyer’s country often involves its own requirements for the product and the sales contract. Because some risks are created even before the sales contract is concluded, it is a good idea to perform the risk analysis in time to include potential hedging costs in the sales price. Once the timeline has been drawn and risks have been identified, the company’s own risk policy needs to be checked. The risk policy helps to determine the company’s risk appetite, limits of tolerance and the decision-making powers. It is a guideline for employees. If your company does not yet have a written risk policy, now is the time to prepare it.Concrete ways to manage risks include the introduction of client and country limits, the use of standardized sales contract clauses and recommendations for the use of payment methods and hedging instruments.Only one third of export companies use a hedging mechanism to avoid credit loss.Companies do not think that guarantees are necessary, because the client has a clear payment history or the buyer is a large company. On the other hand, SMEs do not recognise the opportunities to protect their sales receivables. Do not forget that even one credit loss can cause major damage to company finances.Choose the right product for the right situation – test how well you know export trade!In this export trade challenge, we identify the link between hedging against risks and the financing needs in export trade. The estimated value of each deal in the examples is below EUR 2 million.Can you find the right pairs by matching the situations 1–4 with the most appropriate tool A–D? Find the right answers at the end of this article.Situations1. Export of a production line to China. The line has been highly customised according to the specific needs of the buyer. If the buyer cancels the deal, it is difficult to sell the product to anybody else. The buyer is a new client. The exporter wants to hedge against the risk that the deal is cancelled and ensure that the sales price is received at the time of delivery.2. Export of secondary timber products to Russia. The buyer is an established trading partner of the exporter and purchases products constantly. The buyer has a payment period of 3 months. The exporter’s liquidity is excellent, because it receives a part of the sales price in advance.3. Export of machinery to a dealer in South America. The machines are mobile and resellable. Cooperation with the dealer has continued for years. The exporter sells several machines every year, and the annual sales to this dealer amount to between EUR 1 and 2 million. The buyer requires a payment period of five months, but the exporter would like to have the cash in hand immediately after delivery.4. A single delivery of devices worth EUR 2 million to a hospital in Brazil. The devices are the core products of the exporter and can be sold to another buyer if the deal is cancelled. The buyer requires a payment period of 3 years. The exporter wishes that the bank would finance the payment period and the exporter would be paid on delivery.Answers:A. With credit insurance, the exporter can insure its sales receivables and ensure that the sales price is paid.Because it is a simple insurance product, it is suitable for situations where the exporter has enough liquidity to finance the payment period of the buyer. The credit insurance has the most competitive price.By using credit insurance, the exporter can transfer risks related to the buyer’s liquidity and willingness to pay, as well as those related to the buyer’s country, to Finnvera. Credit insurance is generally employed in insuring post-delivery receivables, but it is also suitable for covering incurred costs of manufacturing if the deal is cancelled before delivery.B. Receivables purchase guarantee provides the exporter with similar coverage as credit insurance once the delivery has taken place and the exporter sells the accounts receivable incurred on the basis of the sales contract to its bank.The bank finances the payment period of the buyer and the exporter receives the price as cash after the delivery at the time of selling the receivables.Finnvera’s guarantee provides the bank that purchased the accounts receivable extensive coverage in case the buyer does not pay its invoice on the due date. Like credit insurance, a receivables purchase guarantee is typically suitable for cases where deliveries are repeatedly made to one buyer and the payment period is less than six months.C. Using a bill of exchange guarantee, the exporter can grant the buyer a payment period of up to five years and receive the purchase price as cash as soon as the delivery has been made and the exporter takes the bill of exchange approved by the buyer to its bank.The bill of exchange is separate from the sales contract and consists of a transferrable debt instrument between the exporter and the buyer. The bill of exchange is suitable for a number of countries. The exporter transfers the credit risk involved in the bill of exchange to its bank by selling the bill.The bill of exchange guarantee protects the bank that bought the bill of exchange against credit risks. It is suitable for both short and long payment periods.D. A letter of credit guarantee protects the bank that confirms the documentary credit. With a confirmed documentary credit, the exporter can eliminate risks related to the buyer and the buyer’s country.The exporter receives the sales price covered by the documentary credit from its own bank as soon as the exporter meets the conditions agreed on the documentary credit and submits the required documents to its bank.A letter of credit guarantee is an excellent solution if the trading partners do not know each other, because the documentary credit protects both parties. It provides protection even before delivery.If the buyer needs a certain payment period, it is possible to agree on the use of documentary credit with a payment period, in which case the exporter’s bank can discount the sales price for the exporter.The correct pairs are: 1–D, 2–A, 3–B, 4–C.Read more:Credit risks in export tradeExport Credit Guarantee operationsCountry classification and mapContact us:Finnvera’s financial advice: Tel. +358 29 460 2582 weekdays 9 a.m.–4:15 p.m.
Sometimes opinions change swiftly. Some were already prepared to write off the entire Finnish forestry industry as a thing of the past, despite the fact that the investments of forestry companies – even during the darkest years of financial crisis – were worth more than EUR 500 million every year. That swansong was replaced with happier notes at the latest when Metsä Fibre announced the construction of a new EUR 1 billion bioproduct mill in Äänekoski, Central Finland. The annual pulp production capacity of the mill, inaugurated last August, is 1.3 million tonnes, making the production volumes of the plant more than twice those of the previous plant. In Finland, another reason to be happy is the high domestic rate of machine purchases, which eventually rose to 70 per cent. This was enabled by the so-called Lex Jordan.“The Export Credit Guarantee Act was amended three years ago. Before that, it was possible for us to support major companies only by granting export credit for foreign exports. Now we can participate in the investments of major companies even in Finland”, says Satu Savelainen, Finnvera’s account and project manager for the Äänekoski investment.Finnvera guaranteed a loan of EUR 400 million for the Äänekoski investment. Savelainen says that the investment must promote exports, either directly or indirectly. Metsä Fibre has estimated the project will increase the value of Finnish exports by half a billion euros a year.“Finnish machine suppliers may now provide quotes with the same terms of financing as their foreign competitors. In the worst case, Metsä Fibre would have maximised its machine purchases from abroad, in which case it could have used the services of local export credit agencies. In such large-scale projects, financing is typically derived from a number of sources. In this project, we collaborated with the Swedish export credit agency EKN”, Savelainen says.Finnvera’s financing instrument for foreign investments goes by the name of the buyer credit guarantee. It is a guarantee granted to the provider of financing of the export, usually the bank, to secure the risks related to the repayment of the credit. Arranging the financing for the buyer helps the Finnish export company to secure the deal.A new, similar guarantee arrangement for Finnish investments is called the finance guarantee.Savelainen says that she currently has several Finnish investment projects on her desk that are similar to the Äänekoski project.“They come in various sizes and from various industries. At any rate, all these projects are beyond the overture phase.”Watch the video interview of Metsä Fibre’s President and CEO Ilkka Hämälä and EcoEnergy SF Oy’s CEO Tero Mäki on the Äänekoski project. The interview is in English.Driving the growth of the entire regionThe purpose of the bioproduct mill is to use the byflows of wood processing to their full potential. This means that no landfill waste is generated in the process.The core of the product offering consists of pulp, pine oil, turpentine, bioelectricity and district heat. Metsä Fibre has announced that the self-sufficiency rate in electricity production in the mill is 240 per cent.“The mill is a significant driver of growth in Central Finland. About half a dozen other companies have already been established around it, and more businesses that use the byflows of the mill will be created over the next 12 to 18 months, when the production in the mill is ramped up”, says Mikko Vänttinen, Regional Director at Finnvera.Vänttinen says that the fulfillment of the role of a growth driver is apparent in numerous areas, but particularly in the movements of raw material.“The mill uses pulpwood, while logwood is redirected to the sawmill industry. Replacement investments at sawmills confirm that the outlook for sawmills has been positive for a long time. The mill also has significant impact on logistics and transport”, Vänttinen continues.Finnvera may provide financing for investments by SMEs either directly or by granting guarantees.The regional director also refers to the importance of innovations in the entire forestry cluster. Last year, the forest industry spent more than EUR 100 million on product development in Finland.“Industries in the traditional sense are losing their importance. In their product development efforts, companies should look beyond the boundaries of different industries”, Vänttinen says.FACTS: Drivers of exports, the forestry cluster Last year, the forest industry exported goods worth EUR 11.5 billion. The proportion of the forest industry of the entire goods exports of Finland was 21.6 per cent. Finland is one of the largest producers of pulp, paper and board in the world. The forest industry employs up to 150,000 people in Finland either directly or indirectly. The largest concentration of forest industry companies lies between South Karelia and Central Finland. The proportion of the forest industry in the gross value of the manufacturing industry in South Karelia reaches 69 per cent, while the proportion in Central Finland is 35 per cent (the fourth highest figure in the country). The vast investment of Metsä Fibre in Äänekoski will increase the future importance of the forest industry in Central Finland. The bioproduct mill cost EUR 1.2 billion. The annual pulp production capacity of the mill is 1.3 million tonnes. The mill consumes 4.5 million cubic metres of softwood and 2 million cubic metres of birch each year.
Environmentally friendly financing, innovative products and services, online services and digitalisation are important themes for SMEs even at an international level. These themes were discussed in Helsinki in June 2017 as Finnvera hosted the annual meeting of The Montreal Group. The event attracted nearly forty participants for the nine member states of the group.The Montreal Group, established in 2012, is a global cooperation group for state-owned national development banks focused on micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. The purpose of the group is to exchange best practices and innovations. Finland joined the group in 2014, and the other members are: Brazil, Canada, China, France, India, Malesia, Mexico and Saudi Arabia.Each year, The Montreal Group focuses on three key topics. In 2016–2017, these were Green Financing, Innovative Products and Services, and Online Services and Digitalisation.During the course of the year, the topics are discussed in working groups that have members from all member banks, and the working group output is then presented at the annual meetings. The annual meeting in Helsinki was hosted by Finnvera’s CEO Pauli Heikkilä and Executive Vice President Katja Keitaanniemi, who is also a member of The Montreal Group’s Board.An international SME event was organised in connection with the annual meetingThe three-day annual meeting in Helsinki was the first time that an SME event was organised in connection with the meeting, with cleantech and the Internet of Things (IoT) as its themes. This event, SMEs’ Helsinki Mission, was organised by The Montreal Group, Finnvera and Finpro, and its participants included over 50 foreign SME executives from six member states and more than 30 executives of Finnish companies.The business event consisted of thematic lectures, round table discussions and over 120 meetings among the participating companies. The event’s cleantech companies also took part in the World Circular Economy Forum, organised in Helsinki at the same time, and the IoT companies visited Tieto, Startup Sauna and Nokia. The SME event received excellent feedback and will also be organised in connection with the 2018 annual meeting in Montréal.Further information on The Montreal GroupCaption: Pascal Lagarde, The Montreal Group’s Chairman and Bpifrance’s Executive Director, opened the annual meeting in Helsinki, describing it as one of the most innovative cities in the world.