Chinese carmaker Geely to be largest shareholder of Denmark’s Saxo bank

Danish bank Saxo said on Friday that Chinese carmaker Geely, the owner of Volvo, would become its largest shareholder by buying around 30 percent of its capital.

Chinese carmaker Geely to be largest shareholder of Denmark's Saxo bank
Saxo Bank co-founder Lars Seier Christensen. Photo: Niels Ahlmann Olsen/Scanpix

Denmark's leading multi-asset trading and financial-technology firm said in a statement that its co-founder Lars Seier Christensen “has received an offer and agreed to sell his stake of 25.71 percent of the bank to Geely pending, among other things, regulatory approvals.”

The rest will be bought from other small shareholders.

Geely Group was founded by businessman Li Shufu, the son of rice farmers, who is seeking to expand his business to the finance sector.

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“Saxo Bank is a trusted trading platform with a strong reputation… We expect to deliver group synergies from the development of financial services both within Geely Group and the wider Chinese market,” Daniel Donghui Li, the group's chief financial officer, said in the statement.

Saxo was founded as brokerage firm called Midas in 1992 before obtaining a banking licence in 2001. It then began to specialise in banking and online financial transactions and eventually entered the Chinese market in 2015, launching a branch in Shanghai.

Lars Seier Christensen, who served as co-CEO of Saxo until the end of 2015, told Danish public broadcaster DR that he wanted to switch to other sectors.

“It's a strange feeling when you've spent 25 years on (the company). On the other hand, it's good to try something new sometimes,” Christensen said.

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Other major Saxo shareholders after Geely will be US fund TPG Capital with 29.26 percent and the company's other co-founder, Kim Fournais, with 25.71 percent.


China derides Copenhagen democracy meet as ‘political farce’

China on Tuesday blasted a democracy conference in Copenhagen attended by Taiwan's president and a Hong Kong activist alongside Danish government officials this week, qualifying it a "political farce".

China derides Copenhagen democracy meet as 'political farce'
Demonstrators gathered outside the Copenhagen Democracy Summit on Tuesday. Photo: Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix

The Copenhagen Democracy Summit was held Monday and Tuesday in the Danish capital and organised by the Alliance of Democracies, an organisation targeted by Beijing sanctions in March and founded by former NATO boss Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

In addition to Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen and Hong Kong democracy activist Nathan Law, Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod also participated in the forum by video link, which Beijing said violated “the one-China principle.”

“This summit is a political farce,” the Chinese embassy in Denmark wrote in a statement published on Tuesday. “Inviting those who advocate Taiwan and Hong Kong ‘independence’ to the meeting violates the one-China principle and interferes in China’s internal affairs,” it said.

“Some hypocritical western politicians are good at meddling in other countries’ internal affairs and creating divisions and confrontation in the name of ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom’. They are bound to fail,” it added.

At the conference on Monday, Kofod said it was “deplorable” that Beijing had imposed sanctions on 10 European individuals and organisations in response to EU sanctions on Xinjiang officials over their actions against the Uyghur Muslim minority.

Like most countries, Denmark applies the one-China principle — under which Beijing bars other countries from having simultaneous diplomatic relations with Taipei — though it does maintain relations with Taiwan.

Cut off politically from the rest of China since the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949, the territory is self-governing but is not recognised by
the United Nations.

Beijing considers Taiwan a rebel province that will one day return under its control, by force if necessary.

China’s sabre-rattling has increased considerably over the past year, with fighter jets and nuclear-capable bombers breaching Taiwan’s air defence zone on a near-daily basis.

“Our government is fully aware of the threats to regional security, and is actively enhancing our national defence capabilities to protect our
democracy,” Tsai told the conference in a video address on Monday. US President Joe Biden is expected to present his China strategy soon, as
calls mount for him to publicly commit to defending Taiwan militarily in the event of a Chinese attack.