State-owned companies of strategic interest – risk management and ensuring business continuity

The Ownership Steering Department of the Prime Minister's Office has ensured the existence of risk management processes in companies but does not participate in them. The NAOF recommends that, if necessary, the line ministries should be involved more extensively in defining a company's strategic interest and in monitoring its implementation.

The audit assessed whether the Ownership Steering Department of the Prime Minister’s Office, which is responsible for the ownership steering of companies, and the Ministry of Finance have ensured that the companies have organized their risk management in accordance with the Government Resolution on State-Ownership Policy. It was also assessed how the Ownership Steering Department and the line ministries (the Ministry of Transport and Communications, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the Ministry of Defence, and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment) have safeguarded the strategic interest of the companies.

 It is very important that the risk management of state-owned companies of strategic interest is in order and that their business continuity is safeguarded because their products and services can be critical to society as a whole. In these companies, the state ownership is based not only on investor interest but also on strategic interest. The latter may relate to, for example, national defence or security of supply.

The Ownership Steering Department strives to ensure by a variety of means that it is adequately informed of the companies’ situation and compliance with the resolution. However, the Department does not take a direct stand on the companies’ risk level, their risk-taking capacity, or the effectiveness of their risk management.

The board of directors is responsible for organizing the company’s risk management. The steering instruments in ownership-strategic work include confidential discussions between the Department’s official and the chair of the board of directors. When the work is based on discussions, its impacts and the different actors’ influence are difficult to determine.

In companies of strategic interest, the realization of risks may have a greater impact on the state and society than loss of invested capital A traditional owner’s risk and loss of invested capital may expand and become a vital societal risk, in which case the state cannot allow the company to go bankrupt. According to the NAOF, specifying risks to the strategic interest in more concrete terms in the resolution on state-ownership policy and, where appropriate, the contribution of the line ministry or ministries to defining and monitoring the interest would strengthen the identification and consideration of strategic interest in the companies’ ownership steering and board work.