Banks hold private meetings with publicly-traded companies and investors

Even though sharp criticism is being levelled at banks that are arranging private meetings where the heads of certain publicly-traded companies meet with analysts and investors, leading to a possible risk of insider trading, the government is not currently considering changing the rules, according to Swedish Radio News.

Swedish Radio News investigated the meetings, sending out a questionnaire to eight banks and brokerages in Stockholm. The results show that these types of closed meetings are not out of the ordinary.

But Anna Helsén, press spokesperson at the bank SEB, told Swedish Radio News that these meetings are not a problem.

"It is very important that no information about market prices is shared here, that is not allowed. However, it can still be useful to hear how businesses see things," Helsén said.

But when, where and how the meetings take place, and who participates, is something that neither the publicly-traded companies nor investors would tell Swedish Radio News.

"The people who are affected are those who are left out of the meetings, those who are not privy to the special information shared," Albin Rännar, head of market watch for the Swedish Shareholders' Association, told Swedish Radio News.

Swedish Radio News has also spoken with around 15 people who have taken part in these private meetings and, with the promise of anonymity, several said that the requirements of exclusivity have been increasing and that they were often invited to sit down alone with the company's CEO.

The private meetings between investors and company CEOs is something that is particularly worrying to Ränner.

"Yes, one says that opportunity makes a thief and this is such an opportunity being created, and one which could possibly leak information that ends up being insider trading," Ränner said.

Jakob Forssmed, the economic-political spokesperson of the opposition Christian Democrats, added his voice to the criticism, telling Swedish Radio News, "The mere suspicion that more information is being handed over at these meetings than what's appropriate - that runs the risk of damaging confidence with respect to the public, and also small savers."

Forssmed's counterpart, Ulla Andersson, of the Left party, said she hopes that the banks listen to the criticism coming from the shareholders' association, for one. She said that otherwise, the rules may need to be tightened.

The financial markets minister, Per Bolund of the Green Party, told Swedish Radio News, "I think that what's important is that the rules and laws that exist around market-manipulating information are followed. And there, I will assume that banks and publicly traded companies, analysts and investors act professionally and that they also take responsibility to maintain confidence in the financial markets."