Remise de la Légion d’Honneur à M. Jonas Jakobson (11 mai 2016) [sv]
"Ladies & Gentlemen,
It is a genuine pleasure to welcome you all at the French Residence and especially to welcome you Jonas, your wife Anna and your three children. Allow me to give this speech in the lingua franca that we all use on a daily basis, English, since my Swedish is unfortunately not as good as your French.
So, in a few minutes, I shall award Jonas Jakobson the Legion of Honor. This distinction acknowledges a great architect of the economic cooperation between our two countries, the commitment of a driven man, with an unquenchable thirst for creating new links and networks between France and Sweden. Jonas Jakobson has a passion for bringing people together in the business world, and beyond : a passion that he has dedicated to the service of our countries.
Jonas, you are a well-respected financier but before anything else, you are an entrepreneur. What defines you best ? Probably an innate talent for selling. A force that translates into an extraordinary capacity to make others trust you and follow your lead. You jumped very young into the entrepreneurial adventure.
In middle school, you came up with your first business idea : selling laundry detergent and doing home-delivery to housewives in Täby. Hemtvätt was born. A successful entrepreneur needs a competent and faithful team. So you hired Prime minister to-be Fredrik Reinfeldt to take care of deliveries ! In your early twenties, you launched in Stockholm “Club 114”, an organization which aim was to organize parties. Again, friends were convened to participate to this enterprise, which was no frivolous project because you had to comply with safety and alcohol control regulations. A leader is also a man who knows how to take responsibilities. All your friends tell how generous and loyal you are.
And persuasive, especially when you organize parties, the most famous, it seems, being your Christmas dinners in Stockholm best restaurants that, according to the legend, finish in an orgy of songs about ponies and dances in the kitchen.
You studied Economic sciences and Economic history at Stockholm University, strengthening the analytical skills that were to make you a professional with a vision. You were then a broker for 10 years in various financial institutions, at a time when emails and internet market places did not exist. You developed an exceptional sense of contact and – again – a persuasive force to convince investors, most of the time over the phone. In 1993, you created your own investment fund, Nordic Equities.
For more than two decades now, Nordic Equities has been striving to find valuable investment ideas for its clients. Situated all over Europe, your clients are primarily institutions such as charity foundations, pension funds and banks. Nordic Equities also owes its success to its employees, because you believe that openness and trust are the key to a driven team, and thus a successful enterprise.
Maintaining good relationships is essential – in business as well as in life. For 30 years, you have kept the closest ties with investors – and in particular with French investors willing to buy Nordic values. Between the walls of the Swedish Circle in Paris, you continuously inform on Scandinavian values. One of your funds was recently authorized by the AMF, the French authority for Financial Markets, making Nordic Equities even closer to its French clients. Over and above, you set up long-term investment strategies that contribute to supporting the Nordic industrial companies that are among your clients. I can name Trelleborg and its 2000 employees in France, Getinge (1000 employees in France) or Novo Nordisk (1300), which recently announced a major investment in France.
Yes, today, the Republic is rewarding a friend of France. You discovered Paris in the 1980’s and took civilization classes at the Sorbonne University. I understand you had the greatest time in the French capital, while working as an intern in an international bank. One may say that you “caught the French virus” and committed yourself to learning the language. France suits you well. Personal contact is a defining part of the French culture : long and heated discussions during meals and a passion for debate. You can very often be found in Sainte-Maxime, where you own a house, on the French Riviera. It is a place where you can combine business with pleasure, being close to a nest of investors in Sainte-Maxime, Saint-Tropez or Monaco. It is also a place where, hopefully, you would not catch a cold even without your underwear.
Dear Jonas, you always defend France : at least, it is what your friends say ! First and foremost, you are an advocate of France as a business destination and have always worked closely with this embassy to promote the country’s attractiveness and inform about new reforms.
I myself have attended a dinner in May 2015, which you organized with 40 Swedish entrepreneurs and leaders and I was given the opportunity to present France’s strengths and advantages as an investment destination, our competent workforce and excellent infrastructures and networks, our strive for innovation, the many reforms that are underway. Investors are very welcome to France and many Swedish companies know that it is a country where they can thrive. Today, they employ more than 100 000 people in the country.
You also like our culture and “savoir-vivre” and have a strong interest for French history and philosophy. You have read the Enlightenment thinkers – Rousseau, Voltaire – and are a sincere proponent of their ideal : progress and self-fulfillment through education. It is no coincidence indeed if you created the Nordic Equities Award : a prize offered for the best essay in the field of finance, to students enrolled at Stockholm University School of Business. You also set up the Family Jakobsons foundation, which awards a scholarship to young people with a creative entrepreneurial project.
Dear Jonas, it is your turn to be rewarded today for the significant role that you have been playing for many years in developing economic relationship and exchanges between France and Sweden. A great thank you for your long-term and tireless commitment."