Banks, locks and paper: the Swedish origin of some of Finland’s largest companies

The connections between the two counties are nowhere more evident than in the business world. An overview of some of Finland’s largest, most valuable and influential companies reveals the extent to which Swedish talents, money, ideas and even royalties have played a key role in Finnish industry. Here are some of the surprising Swedish origins of Finland’s largest companies.


Fiskars is one of the world’s best-known Finnish brands today, best known for its iconic, orange scissors (Fiskars Orange has been owned and patented by the company for decades).

Fiskars manufactures a wide range of home products for the global market, including branded products from Iittala, Arabia, Hackman and Royal Doulton, with 6,400 employees and an annual turnover of more than € 1 billion.

Although Fiskars is often said to be a modern Finnish success story, its roots go back to 1649, when a Dutch merchant first founded the company in the Swedish village of Fiskars, Raseborg. At that time, Finland was strictly part of the Swedish state, and Queen Christina of Sweden signed the charter that gave birth to Fiskars.

For the first centuries, Fiskars manufactured wrought iron and water bikes. It was not until the last 19th century, when Marshal Mannerheim’s uncle Albert von Julin (the Swedish-speaking family himself) bought the company, that it spread to household products.

After the establishment of the first Fiskars scissor factory in the United States in 1977, from which it would produce more than a billion of its iconic cutlery, the company quickly grew into a global resource.

The Swedish government owned Nordea at some point.


Nordea, with its global headquarters in the trendy Vallila area of ​​Helsinki, is a global financial titanium. The company manages more than EUR 320 billion in assets and 9.3 million customers, and is the second largest company in the entire Nordic country (after the Norwegian state-owned oil giant Equinor).

Although Nordea as it is known today is the result of a dizzying merger network of hundreds of different Nordic banks, most of its history and origins before moving to Helsinki were of a Swedish nature. It was first established in 1820 as Sparekassen for the Danish bank Kjøbenhavn og Omegn, and soon moved to Sweden when it merged with the Stockholm Wermlandsbanken of Sweden in 1832.

Shortly afterwards, the department acquired a large number of Swedish banks as well as smaller Finnish, Danish and Norwegian holdings in the litany. The bank spent most of its history headquartered in Stockholm, and was even owned and controlled by the Swedish government in the 1990s as a result of the banking crisis.

Until 2018, Nordea became a fully Finnish bank, moving its headquarters to Helsinki for regulatory reasons and the desire to participate fully in the European Banking Union, which it could not do in Sweden. Today, it is one of Finland’s largest employers.

Assa Abloy

If you’ve ever tapped a hotel room key card on a black door sensor, you’ve probably used Assa Abloy.

One of the world’s largest manufacturers of electronic locks, Assa Abloy, was established in 1994 as a result of the merger of the Finnish company Abloy and the Swedish Assa merger.

Today, Assa Abloy continues to operate under the Abloy brand in Finland, where it is one of the country’s best-known and most respected brands. Abloy, previously owned by Wärtsilä, was founded in 1918 by Swedish-speaking Finnish Emil Henriksson as a locksmith.

Over the following decades, it grew into one of the largest global lock manufacturers. Originally, the plan was for Abloy to buy the Swedish company Assa directly, as it was a much larger company, and this was what the Finnish people wanted.

However, due to Abloy’s significant financial problems, Assa used more leverage in the negotiations and thus ended up buying Abloy, which is why it is headquartered in Stockholm today. In 2021, Assa Abloy will employ 47,500 people in 70 countries and have assets of more than 9 billion euros.

Stora Enso

Helsinki-based Stora Enso is one of the world’s largest forest companies, with a turnover of more than EUR 8.5 billion and 24,400 employees last year. .

It is also one of the oldest companies in the world with roots in Swedish history. The first shares in the company, called Stora, were issued as early as 1288 to the Bishop of Västerås in Falun, Sweden, where Stora Enso continued to operate until the 1990s. After the success of early medieval mining, King Magnus of Sweden granted Stora the charter of a royal company in 1347.

At the same time, Enso, the Finnish part of which Stora merged in 1998, was originally a Norwegian company that moved to Finland century. After the establishment of Stora Enso at the turn of the 21st century, all key functions moved to Helsinki, where the company is still managed from the iconic office building designed by Aalto, which overlooks the Market Square.


Handelsbanken has tens of thousands of corporate and private customers in Finland and is one of the country’s largest players in the banking and financial sector. It had a turnover of € 21 billion last year and is 73rd the largest bank on the planet and the fifth largest bank in Finland.

As the name suggests, the bank was founded in Stockholm under the name Svenska Handelsbanken in 1871, the pioneer of the Nordic savings bank movement at the time, largely as an effort by the middle class to alleviate urban poverty.

The bank was exclusively a Swedish community for most of its life before expanding to Finland and the United Kingdom in the late 20th century. Handelsbanken established its first branch in Finland in 1985 on Aleksanterinkatu, where it continues to operate today, and its Finnish division became a full-fledged Finnish bank in 1996.

Perhaps best known is the fact that in 1996 Handelsbanken acquired the scandal-induced SKOP Bank, one of Finland’s largest savings banks and playing a key role in the devastating banking crises of the 1990s. Today, there are 30 branches in Finland.

Adam Oliver Smith – HT

Photo: Lehtikuva


Source: The Nordic Page





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