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Legislation

Ownership Steering Act

The main piece of legislation regulating the exercise of government control in state-owned companies is the State Shareholdings and Ownership Steering Act (1368/2007). The Act governs decision making concerning state shareholdings and shareholder control in both state majority-owned companies and associated companies.

A state majority-owned company means a limited liability company in which the State holds a majority of the aggregate of votes provided by the company shares. A state associated company means a limited liability company in which the State holds a minimum of ten and maximum of fifty per cent of the aggregate of votes provided by the company shares.

The Act defines the powers of the Government and Parliament when decisions are made to acquire or relinquish control in a state-owned company. In addition, the Act clarifies the division of powers between the Government plenary session and the ministry responsible for ownership steering. Moreover, the Act sets out provisions concerning the sale of shares and restructuring of the ownership base.

All decisions identifying the companies in which the State may relinquish its sole ownership (100% of votes) or control (50.1% of votes) of a given company are made by Parliament. Similarly, decisions on the acquisition of control by the State are made by Parliament if the company involved is of major importance. While the decisions on state ownership, i.e., the acquisition and sale of shares, are made by the Government, the ministry responsible for ownership steering makes decisions on most issues concerning ownership steering and the exercise of shareholder control.

Special legislation

Aside from the State Shareholdings and Ownership Steering Act, some state-owned companies are subject to special legislation governing the field of activity involved, such as  the Act on Credits and Guarantees Provided by the State-Owned Specialist Financing Company and the laws concerning alcoholic beverages. The activities of all limited companies are governed by the Limited Liability Companies Act.

Additionally, listed companies are required to comply with the Securities Markets Act and the guidelines issued by the Financial Supervisory Authority and the Helsinki Stock Exchange.

Government resolutions

Aside from the State Shareholdings and Ownership Steering Act, the management of the State’s corporate assets is governed by Government resolutions on the State’s ownership policies. The Government may also take other decisions regarding the policies and ownership steering in general. Also, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Policy may issue statements related to this subject matter. Moreover, the ministry responsible for outlining the ownership policies and steering – currently the Prime Minister’s Office – may give recommendations and specify practices and procedures.