Last year, 113 foreign companies bought Swedish firms ranging in size from large corporations to mid-sized operations, and with 16 purchases, the United States ranked third after Norway (25) and Denmark (20), according to statistics from Anecta Mergers and Acquisitions, who worked with Translink International to compile an index of business transfers across national borders.

Both domestically and across borders, last year recorded lower activity in the acquisitions market. When the financial crisis exploded in autumn 2008, Norwegians took leadership from the British, who purchased most Swedish companies in 2008. The report showed 106 companies abroad were purchased by Swedish firms last year, and inside the nation between Sweden's home based companies, there were some 567 domestic purchases in 2009, down from 664 in 2008.

On the bright side, beginning in December 2009, the number of acquisitions across borders has increased, shows the index. Up until last year, transactions had decreased by some 20% compared to 2008. Unpublished figures kept the value of transactions unavailable, but Lars af Ekenstam, president of Anecta, states, "Our view is that the average value decreased by at least 35% in 2009."

In recent months, he has seen increased interest from buyers, and he also added that venture capitalists are starting to become more active. He calculates that additional companies seeking acquisitions will attract money into the market and encourage banks to discuss financing.

"We believe that there will be an increase in the number of business transactions in 2010. There is a large, pent-up demand driven partly by the generation change and partly for strategic reasons. After a tough 2009, it seems that acquisitions are gaining momentum again," he observes.