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Friday's papers: Helsinki housing boom, surprise takeover offer, and Guggenheim details

There's a construction industry feel to today's paper review, with news on the supposedly booming housing market in the capital, a surprise takeover bid for the Finnish building firm that built a luxury villa for Ukraine's deposed president, and some added detail on just who is providing the private finance for Helsinki's possible Guggenheim museum.

Newspapers, lehdet, sanomalehti
Image: Yle

The capital city region's property market is booming, according to a joint investigation by Helsingin Sanomat and the construction trade paper Rakennuslehti. The report shows that the number of new apartments under construction in the capital city region is at a record level, with some 3,030 currently in the works.

The region is on course to record 5,115 sales of new-build properties this year. That would be a record, with the average over the last decade running at 2,800. Prices are also advancing at a healthy lick, with the average cost of a square metre of residential property in the region hitting 5,578 euros. In Helsinki it's 6,766 euros, in Espoo it's 5,262 euros, while in Vantaa the price is 4,675 on average.

The Vantaa and Espoo prices reveal a mildly surprising divergence: In Espoo the cost of housing dipped slightly, while in Vantaa--traditionally the ugly sister of the big three Helsinki municipalities--prices have risen.

That's down to the urbanisation effect of the rail line to the airport, which now loops through Vantaa after opening in 2015. Along the route new neighbourhoods have sprung up, and now they are rapidly filling with residents paying decent prices for brand new flats.

Honka surprise

Back in 2014, Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich was deposed. He fled the country, went to Russia and crowds flocked to his luxurious residences, rooting through his homes aghast at the opulence he had amassed for himself.

That scene had a Finnish setting. His Mezhyhirya was built by the Finnish firm Honkarakenne, which back in 2014 was not ideal publicity for the company as the world's media relayed images of the secret riches of Ukraine's ruler.

Now Kauppalehti reports (using pictures from the Ukrainian villa) that the company could end up in Russian hands. It's been losing money for years, and Russian investment company Sistema wants to buy up shares in the company. It is promising new markets and invetsment, but according to the Honkarakenne CEO the bid came as a 'complete surprise'.

He says the firm is slowly improving its financial position, and analysts say they'd be surprised if the deal went through at the price offered (1.50 euro per share). Kauppalehti also notes that Sistema's owner, oligarch Vladimir Yevtuschenko, has had assets appropriated by the Russian state and was until January this year under house arrest.

Guggenheim funders

Kauppalehti also has a report on the wealthy individuals who have offered to fund a new effort to build a Guggenheim museum in Helsinki. The new proposal relies on expanded private funding for the project, which has previously been rejected by local and national government.

The idea isn't going away though, and it has strong backing from wealthy and influential people in Finland. Under the current proposal the museum would open in 2021, and more of the costs will be met through private financing.

KL has put some names to the private money. Non-domiciled London resident Poju Zabludowicz, who went to school in Tampere and whose family wealth came in the defence industry, is one funder. Ex-Nokia boss Jorma Ollila is another, and Sanoma owner Rafaela Seppälä is also chipping in.

Another helping hand came from the Guggenheim foundation, which is now willing to reduce its 30 million euro annual licensing fee to 20 million euros.

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