Resistance to the planned sale of 19 percent of the state-owned energy company DONG to US investment bank Goldman Sachs has exploded over the past few days.
An online petition against the sale has reached nearly 150,000 signatures, becoming the most popular petition ever on the website skrivunder.net. There has been more than a doubling of signatures since Saturday, when the number sat at around 68,000.
The petition, ‘Nej tak til statens salg af DONG til Goldman Sachs’ (no thanks to the state’s sale of DONG to Goldman Sachs), points out that the state-brokered deal gives the American firm veto rights over any changes in DONG’s leadership and strategy, even though Danish law states that such rights are normally only conferred with at least a 33 percent stake in a company.
Goldman Sachs’s plans to administrate its ownership from shell corporations in Luxembourg, the US state of Delaware and the Cayman Islands – all well-known tax havens – has also come under intense scrutiny.
In addition to the online petition, a protest against the planned sale of DONG has been scheduled for Wednesday at 4pm outside of Christiansborg. Some 3,000 attendees have signed up via Facebook.
Sceptics within Socialdemokraterne
Inside Christiansborg, far-left party Enhedslisten and the far-right Dansk Folkeparti have long been vocal critics of the Goldman Sachs deal. But now MPs of ruling coalition party Socialdemokraterne have spoken out against the deal, which was brokered by the the party’s own Bjarne Corydon, the finance minister.
“We need a timeout in the partial sale of DONG to Goldman Sachs,” Bjarne Lautsen (S) told DR Nyheder. “Many negative things have emerged and there has also been a new offer from Danish pension companies.”
Corydon has refuted earlier reports that the Finance Ministry was offered a bid from the pension firm PensionDanmark that was more lucrative than the one from Goldman Sachs.
Vote on Thursday
Corydon will face a parliamentary hearing tomorrow about the planned sale, where he is expected to be grilled by Parliament’s Finance Committee on the Goldman Sachs deal. The same committee will vote on the sale on Thursday.
Despite the public scepticism of the deal, the Finance Ministry has stood by its decision and has been publicly backed by PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt (S).
The deal to sell part of DONG to Goldman Sachs was finalised in December. If it passes, the deal will bring the Danish government's ownership down from 81 to 60 percent.