Back in January 2014, we reported that Goldman's merchant banking unit rushed to buy an 18% in Denmark's DONG Energy (that would be Danish Oil & Natural Gas) company for $1.5 billion. The result was an immediate grassroots resistance campaign, as hundreds of thousands of Danes refused to hand over their DONG to the vampire squid for various reasons, not the least of which was granting Goldman veto rights over changes to DONG's leadership and strategy, a right usually reserved for buyers of 33% of an entity. A bigger reason for the Danish anger at the Goldman DONG deal, was that as The Local reported a few months later, the sale "did not include a massive deal that both parties knew was imminent, shortchanging the company's value by as much as 20 billion kroner."
Which was to be expected: as we further said in January 2014, "if Goldman is involved, it guarantees future benefits for the Vampire Squid". Sure enough:
Denmark lost out on billions of kroner when it sold partial ownership of Dong Energy to American investment firm Goldman Sachs in January 2014, Politiken reported Wednesday.
When the Danish government sold an 18 percent stake of Dong to Goldman Sachs, the Finance Ministry calculated the company’s value at 31.5 billion kroner ($4.6 billion).
But just three months later, Dong was granted the rights to instal a massive offshore wind park supported by the United Kingdom. According to Politiken, that deal shot Dong’s value up to over 50 billion kroner but was not calculated into the Goldman Sachs sale despite both Dong and the investment firm being fully aware of it.
Politiken also reports that the looming deal was common knowledge throughout the wind industry.
As a result, the locals were less than delighted to learn the details of yet another Goldman pillaging of taxpayers, one which allowed Goldman to make a substantial return on its investment in just months courtesy of what was information which the government either did not have access to, or simply refused to notice.
Bloomberg further reports that "the Goldman deal left an indelible mark on Danish politics. Disagreement over the Wall Street bank’s investment in state assets prompted a junior party in the former Social Democrat-led administration to quit the coalition in protest. Danes gathered in their thousands in front of the parliament to protest against the sale."
Indeed, the deal caused a rift in the former Social Democrat-led coalition, culminating in the departure of a junior member, the Socialist People’s Party. The government of Helle Thorning-Schmidt that oversaw the Goldman deal was ousted in the June 2014 elections, paving the way for a Liberal government led by Lars Loekke Rasmussen. He served as finance minister under Fogh Rasmussen and was also prime minister from 2009 until 2011.
Fast forward over a year, and a shaken Denmark still refuses to let Goldman fully off the hook when recently the government decided to let lawmakers see secret documents on Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s purchase of the 18% stake in DONG. However, as Goldman reports, this glimpse into the fine details of the Goldman decision making process will probably be a one-off. To wit: "The government says it’s making an exception in the case of Goldman’s 2014 investment in Dong Energy A/S after lawmakers on a committee overseeing the sale complained they weren’t given full access to the relevant files. Bjarne Corydon, who was finance minister at the time, said the information contained in the transaction papers was too sensitive even for the parliament committee."
Almost as "sensitive" as when Goldman's former employee and then Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson tried to pass an open-ended "three-page termsheet"bailout of, well, Goldman Sachs through Congress in 2008... and ultimately succeeded.
But while Goldman's domination of all legislative matters in the US is well known and nobody will dare to make much of a fuss over it, in Denmark things are different.
Finance Minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen said this month he will release the documents more than a year after the transaction went through as lawmakers continue to argue over the deal. Goldman and PFA have said they have no objection to the files being made public.
Would the deal be unwound if it is discovered that Goldman had conspired and manipulated (with significant kickbacks) the government of Helle Thorning-Schmidt to fast track the deal which Goldman knew would be a huge IRR in just a few short months? It is unlikely:
Rene Christensen, a spokesman for the Danish People’s Party which lobbied to have the documents released, said there’s no risk their contents might trigger political demands that a new deal be negotiated.
“Altering the deal isn’t really what it’s about,” Christensen said by phone. “It’s about having had a finance minister who said he couldn’t trust the committee.” Denmark’s lawmakers deserve to know “what was so important about this deal that we weren’t allowed to see more details,” he said.
Martin Hintze, a partner at Goldman who sits on the board of Dong, was quoted by Berlingske as saying the bank has no objections to having the documents made public.
Of course it wouldn't - any objections would be seen as confirmation the sale process was improper.
Which is why Goldman decided to go for the "sure thing" jugular, and just to make absolutely sure it controls the DONG process, Goldman hired none other than Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the former Danish prime minister who governed Denmark from 2001 until 2009 "to help tackle the political hurdles the bank has encountered since buying into a state utility last year."
Why hire him? Because the current Danish prime minister, Lars Loekke Rasmussen, just happened to be the subordinate and finance minister under the "other" Rasmussen, the one Goldman just hired: Anders Fogh.
Because if buying current and former government leaders to control the decision-making process works in the US and every other developed nation, why not in Denmark.
But that's not all: in this particular case, Goldman gets bonus influence points because in addition to purchasing the former Danish PM, and by implication, the current PM and his former fin-min protege, and assuring the DONG scandal quietly goes away, Goldman just hired the former head of NATO: from 2009 to 2014 Anders Fogh Rasmussen served as the 12th Secretary General of NATO.
In other words, with one hiring decision, Goldman not only assured its financial dominance over Denmark, but is now sure to capitalize on whatever military developments NATO unleashes in the coming weeks, which by the looks of things will involve Goldman funding every group in the upcoming Syrian invasion and the resulting latest and greatest war in the middle east.