Privatization: 200,000 Danish citizens battle against Goldman Sachs


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Doing business with Goldman Sachs can precipitate political crises. This is what has just happened in Denmark. The government has announced the investment of the US bank into the capital of the public energy company Dong Energy (the equivalent of Gaz de France before its privatization). The news has caused a strong reaction: 200,000 people (out of a population of 5 million) signed an online petition to protest the investment. Millions of protesters converged on Parliament on the 29th of January. Six ministers, members of the Popular Socialist Party, have resigned in protest, provoking a government crisis. The national coalition made up of three parties thus finds itself weakened.

Dong Energy is a strategic enterprise, producer of oil, natural gas, and electricity, with a 9 billion dollar turnover. The agreement with Goldman Sachs provisions the purchase of 19% of the capital in the company - for 1.1 billion euros - thus reducing the Danish government’s stake in the company. Two pension funds would partner with the bank in its investment scheme. Goldman would obtain veto power over certain strategic decisions, such as the appointment of directors.

Criticisms have also been leveled at the fact that Goldman Sachs has planned to invest via a company based in Luxembourg, partly owned by shareholders based in the Cayman Islands and in Delaware (a state in the US), reports the Financial Times. A financial deal done through notorious tax havens has exasperated a part of the population. "Goldman Sachs complies, and will continue to comply with all applicable tax laws in Denmark, Luxembourg, the United States and other relevant jurisdictions" , responded the investment bank, arguing that such a small investment does not call for creating a legal structure in Denmark.

The US bank, "stunned by the sudden ferocity of the Danish debate" according to The Financial Times, is not used to this type of resistance. It is defending its plans and hopes this will not throw its other dealings in the country into question. According to a recent poll, 68% of Danish people are opposed to the sale. Will the government prefer to listen to the bank or to its citizens?

Agnès Rousseaux

This article was originally published in French


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