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Paper: Helsinki Mayor Vapaavuori hired as advisor at Danish real estate outfit

The mayor's term concludes at the end of July.

Jan Vapaavuori kuvattiin Ylen Pasilan toimispisteen sisäpihalla 25. marraskuuta 2020.
Jan Vapaavuori, file photo taken November 2020. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle

The outgoing Mayor of Helsinki, Jan Vapaavuori (NCP) plans to work as a part-time urban development advisor at the Danish real estate investment firm NREP, according to business newspaper Kauppalehti.

The Vapaavuori's current term concludes at the end of July.

"Urban development is about many different things, but hardly something that has such a wide-ranging impact as real estate, regarding the fight against climate change," the paper quoted Vapaavuori saying in an interview.

According to NREP, the real estate sector accounts for 40 percent of global carbon emissions. In a 2019 sustainability report, the company said that the industry needed to better address challenges such as the sector's impact on the environment.

In the interview, the 56-year-old Vapaavuori noted that he had carefully reviewed the ethical issues related to departing his post, saying that there were no bans or caveats concerning his future endeavours.

in an effort to avoid possible conflicts of interest, Vapaavuori said he has agreed with NREP to not participate in any Helsinki-related projects during his first six months on the job.

"I was hired by NREP more for the [overall] group than for NREP in Finland," he told the paper.

Real estate investment and development firm NREP has a total of around 7.1 billion euros in assets under management, according to Kauppalehti.

NREP major player in city, paper reports

According to daily paper Helsingin Sanomat, NREP is a major player in the city's real estate market and that Vapaavuori's plans have raised the eyebrows of some members of other political parties.

Left Alliance MP and Helsinki city councillor Veronika Honkasalo as well as Social Democratic Party city councillor and MP Eeveliina Heinäluoma suggested that transitions made by high-ranking public figures to private firms could be potentially problematic.

"It doesn't look good," Honkasalo told the paper, adding that she thinks the city needs to consider introducing austerity measures, similar to plans under consideration by the state.

Vapaavuori was elected mayor in June 2017 but announced last November that he would not be running for the post again, saying he planned to retire from politics.

Among other political posts, Vapaavuori also served as the country's economic affairs minister in Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen's administration from November 2012- May 2015.

Vapaavuori currently serves as chair of the Finnish Olympic Committee, a post he started at the beginning of this year.

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