Arvid Lindman and Swedish telephony

Arvid Lindman was an industrial leader and a prominent conservative politician in the early 1900s. The story of his life has several links with Swedish telephony.

Lindman was born in 1862 in Österbybruk, where his father was foundry manager and held leading positions within Iggesund, Strömbacka and Österby. Arvid also assumed key roles in these operations later in life, including positions as President of Iggesunds bruk (1892-1903) and President of Strömbacka bruks AB (1903-1923).

For a short time around the turn of the century, Lindman also served as President of LKAB, one of Sweden's largest mining corporations. Based on his industrial background, Arvid Lindman was appointed Director General of Televerket, the Swedish PTT in 1904. He was forced to relinquish his position in 1907, however, after becoming Prime Minister of Sweden in the preceding year.

In his capacities as both Director General and Prime Minister, Arvid Lindman was committed to finding solutions to the telephony situation in Stockholm and discontinuing the competition between Stockholms Allmänna Telefonaktiebolag (SAT) and Televerket. His attempts failed, however.

In the history of Televerket, Lindman is probably not remembered as much as a former Director General as for the reorganization of Televerket that he initiated in 1908 as Prime Minister of Sweden.

During Lindman's early years as Prime Minister, several reforms were introduced, including broader enfranchisement rights for Swedish citizens. The reforms were one of the main reasons Lindman's government was defeated in the election of 1911, when he moved to the second chamber of the Swedish parliament and became chairman of the chamber's Conservative Party (1912-1935).

He was elected chairman of the party's national committee in 1913, a position he held until 1935. The history of the Conservative Party portrays Lindman as a prominent force in the unification of Sweden's political rightwing faction.

Lindman's most significant involvement in Swedish telephony was during his tenures as Chairman of the Board of Directors of AB L M Ericsson & Co (1916-1918) and Allmänna Telefonaktiebolaget L M Ericsson (1918-1925), which was formed through the merger of SAT and AB L M Ericsson & Co. Lindman was elected to succeed Wilhelm Montelius as Chairman of Ericsson's Board of Directors in 1916. Montelius and Lindman knew each other, having both served as Board members in the relatively new AGA gas company since 1912.

During his time as Chairman of AB L M Ericsson & Co, Lindman actively supported the company's merger with SAT through negotiations with Fredrik Pegelow, SAT's Chairman, and his efforts gain approval from Parliament for the sale of AB Stockholmstelefon's operations, which was a condition of the merger.

He also played an active role in Ericsson's international expansion after WWI. Hemming Johansson, President of Ericsson at the time, wrote in his memoirs that his cooperation with Lindman was always "friction-free and harmonious", which was probably an allusion to the conflict of wills that prevailed in the company in the early 1920s, and eventually led to Lindman's resignation from Ericsson's Board of Directors in 1925.

The conflicts centered around Karl Fredrik Wincrantz, who was elected to Ericsson's Board of Directors after the merger with SAT in 1919. Wincrantz was appointed co-President of the company with Hemming Johansson in 1922. In 1925, in collaboration with Ivar Kreuger, he was able to acquire a number of substantial blocks of shares in Ericsson, which originated from consolidated share funds created within SAT. After acquiring the shares, Wincrantz asked Lindman and several other Board members to resign. Wincrantz also became the company's sole President.

After leaving Ericsson, Lindman continued his industrial career through affiliations with Iggesund and Strömbacka bruks AB (Chairman and Vice Chairman, respectively, from 1923). He also served as Prime Minister of Sweden again (1928-1930). Arvid Lindman died in an airplane crash in England in 1936.

Author: Claes-Fredrik Helgesson

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