Wednesday's papers: Wolt sold, tax day, Niinistö on Belarus

The courier firm has become popular in Finland. 

Wolt couriers have become a familiar sight on the streets of Finland. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

It's tax day in Finland, when everyone's tax data for 2020 is made public. The papers are as ever filled with tax-related stories, but there's one big piece of business news that is also topping the news agenda on Wednesday: the takeover of courier firm Wolt by American rival DoorDash.

Helsingin Sanomat says (siirryt toiseen palveluun) the deal is worth seven billion euros, and quotes Wolt CEO Miki Kuusi as saying the decision to sell was the hardest of his life. Wolt estimated that the deal would be worth some 600 million euros in tax revenues for Finland.

HS suggests (siirryt toiseen palveluun) the deal would be the second biggest takeover deal in Finnish business history, after Nokia's purchase of French giant Alcatel-Lucent—that 2016 deal was worth 16.4 billion euros.

HS also reports (siirryt toiseen palveluun) on congratulations from others in the Finnish business world and in government, with Finance Minister Annika Saarikko (Cen) saying it was "wonderful that Finnish know-how is recognised worldwide. [There are] big benefits to our country, including tax revenues."

Tax Day

Finland's Tax Administration publishes tax data today, with most news outlets publishing stories and data from 8am.

This is different from last year, when many media outlets refused to publish tax search engines in protest at the Tax Administration's decision to allow high earners to conceal their earnings from publication.

This time round, after a court ruling in favour of tax transparency, HS and others will be updating their databases with the new information from 2020.

The court ruled that tax officials have to provide the media with a list of those who requested confidentiality, and that if media request their data by name, it must be provided.

In an opinion piece, HS says (siirryt toiseen palveluun) the data published first thing on Wednesday will not be complete, but in line with the court ruling, the paper will task journalists to go through the list of people who requested their removal from the lists, and request each person's income information individually in order to add it to the data set.

Aamulehti, meanwhile, explains (siirryt toiseen palveluun) another reason some rich people are not at the top of the earnings lists.

The paper explains that the truly wealthy members of society do not take a big income each year, instead allowing their assets to appreciate tax-free via holding companies.

This avoids the taxman taking a cut—and their tax data being published.

Advance stories prepared for print editions are not based on the actual data itself, but offer a little context about those who may have done well last year. The idea is to explain a little about how people made their money.

Iltalehti reports (siirryt toiseen palveluun) on Espoo supermarket owner Toni Pokela who made over a million euros last year, thanks largely to rapid adaptation as Covid prompted increased demand for online grocery shopping.

It was a tough year for everyone, but Pokela said the adjustments necessary during the pandemic were significant.

"We have more than a hundred employees, so we thought about how coffee breaks could be organised so that there were only six people in the break room at any one time," said Pokela.

"Where could we get extra space and how it could be organised, all this was totally new to us too."

Belarus border

The situation on the borders of Belarus has prompted concern across Europe, including in Finland, and HS carries comments (siirryt toiseen palveluun) from Finnish President Sauli Niinistö that were subsequently picked up by plenty of other outlets.

Belarus has transported thousands of migrants to its border with Poland, as they attempt to gain entry to the EU. Poland has been blocking entry for the migrants.

HS reports that Niinistö says he considers the escalating situation to be extremely problematic.

"I have been thinking about the dilemma that liberal democracy is currently facing. We have, in a way, lost the ability to be tough—which is good, of course—but we have also lost the ability to be tough against tough situations. That's when situations like what is happening at the Polish border actually culminate," he said.

Niinistö suggested that, unlike western democracies, authoritarian regimes can tolerate the mistreatment of their own people, which he calls a "highly dangerous weapon." He also stressed that Poland's actions are not in line with international agreements that obligate countries to grant asylum to those seeking it at their border.

The president highlighted Europe's double standards regarding migration, referring to its tendency to emphasise its commitment to respect human rights and treaties while simultaneously paying Turkey to support refugees. In 2016, the EU signed an agreement with Turkey, whereby the latter agreed to host millions of Syrian refugees with EU funding.

Niinistö also stressed that the situation, which he believes could eventually lead to violence, will be especially tricky for the EU, particularly if it does not intervene in any way.