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Wednesday's papers: May's election, dodgy investments, cheap Helsinki and a skiing legend retires

Most of Wednesday's newspapers led with coverage of British Prime Minister Theresa May's decision to call an early election. Other stories include an elderly investor who made some terrible investments, attempts to bring regional headquarters to Helsinki and reaction to the retirement of a cross-country skiing champion.

Sami Jauhojärvi
Skier Sami Jauhojärvi announced his retirement on Tuesday. Image: Tomi Hänninen

The lead story in most papers on Wednesday is British Prime Minister Theresa May's decision to hold snap elections in June. The internal politics of the UK are more interesting than usual for Finns and other EU citizens, given the upcoming Brexit negotiations, and the reaction to May's gambit is not universally positive.

Ilta-Sanomat suggests that there's a risk of Britain becoming chaotic at just the wrong moment for Europe, given the other elections this year in France and Germany. Although the paper acknowledges that the risk is small, given the Labour Party's unpopularity.

Aamulehti's editorial is more scathing, wondering if May took inspiration from Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan's move to bolster his powers with a referendum and deciding she too wants to show some 'strong leadership'. May's approach to the EU is then compared to Margaret Thatcher's, but Aamulehti says her slogan should not be 'I want my money back', but rather 'I'm leaving and I'm taking the family silver'.

Auli's lost fortune

Helsingin Sanomat has a big feature on Auli (name changed) who lost tens of thousands of euros in investments sold by a firm in central Helsinki that often changes its name and charges extremely high commissions. Eighty-year-old Auli had saved up nearly 50,000 euros over her working life, and stashed the cash in low-risk mutual funds.

That's until she was cold-called by Elina, a banking firm in Helsinki that last year changed its name to 'Aalto'. She remembers little about the firm, besides the fact that it had a big fancy lobby and that she was offered coffee. Likewise her investments are a mystery.

Her niece and nephew, however, have worked out that since 2012 she'd lost around 35,000 euros in bad investments, repeated sales and purchases of new products incurring commissions, and astronomic administration charges.

One insurance product incurred some 181 charges totalling 11,320 euros over just five years, all coming out of Auli's diminishing wealth. What's more, Auli can't complain in Finland. The product she bought was an SEB Life investment, and SEB Life is registered in Ireland. She would therefore have to complain to the Irish regulator in English. Auli does not speak English.

The three owners of Aalto (née Elina) are Totti Lintu, Timo Jormalainen and Jerker Forsström. According to their financial declarations, none of them own the kind of high-risk structured investments their company sold to Auli.

Helsinki as a hub?

Business daily Kauppalehti covers a campaign by Helsinki Business Hub and AmCham Finland, the American Chamber of Commerce, to bring the regional headquarters of multinational firms to Finland.

The campaign is running this year and aims to show firms that the Finnish capital is cheaper than Stockholm, Copenhagen or Berlin. Lower taxes, lower salaries and affordable rents are the main attractions of setting up shop in Helsinki.

There is at least plenty of room for improvement, as Finland is currently home to just 19 regional HQs, and twelve of those are for Finnish companies. In Stockholm there are 127 and in Copenhagen 60.

Jauhojärvi calls it a day

Finnish skiing lost a champion on Tuesday when Olympic gold medallist Sami Jauhojärvi announced he was hanging up his skis. His career highlight came in the 2014 Sochi Olympics, when he won gold in the sprint relay with Iivo Niskanen, but he also won three world championship relay bronze medals.

"Greater than his success" is the headline in HS, above a story that details his role in Finnish skiing. His first breakthrough came in the World Championships in Lahti in 2001, when he was 19 years old – and when several other Finnish skiers were banned for doping. His role as a solid member of the team grew, but as HS says, "as a skier he had his limits".

Still he continued to develop and played his role in team triumphs in 2009, 2014 and this year on home snow in Lahti. Ilta-Sanomat takes a similar line to Hesari, saying that "just the Olympic win isn't enough to explain Sami Jauhojärvi's greatness".

Local paper Kainuun Sanomat takes a more parochial view, wondering how the local Vuokatti Ski Team will replace the Olympic winner. Luckily for them he will be available as a reserve, should they be short of numbers in the relay team.

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