SEB ‘planning major cuts’

Swedish bank SEB is planning a major cost-cutting programme with an aim to reduce costs by 5 percent, it has been reported.

Jobs are certain to be lost through the cutbacks, according to Ulf Jensen, representative for the Financial Sector Union of Sweden at SEB.

Dagens Industri reports that the cutbacks are aimed at reducing the company’s costs by 1 billion kronor.

Jensen, who represents 6,000 SEB employees, says the bank has so far been cooperative in finding alternative jobs within the company for those whose current jobs are axed.

A cost-cutting programme would make SEB more attractive in many ways, according to news agency TT. The programme is seen as a natural consequence of the expansive period under Lars H Thunell’s leadership. The news of the cuts comes as speculation is intensifying over a possible fusion of Nordea and SEB.

But one analyst said that the cuts were not down to any merger plans, but were rather due to CEO Annika Falkengren’s wish to make the disparate company into one unified business.

“But if this is carried out the bank would be more attractive in every sense. Not just for a buyer but also in terms of its stock market value,” the analyst told news agency TT.

The analyst said that Investor, SEB’s current owner, would want to keep SEB, “both for sentimental and strategic reasons.”

“Controlling a bank is very, very useful. A condition for any deal is likely to be that Investor remains a major shareholder and has a leading role in the new bank,” he said.

SEB’s spokeswoman Viveka Hirdman-Ryrberg was tight-lipped on Thursday about any possible cutback programme.

“We have been very clear for several quarters, in our quarterly reports, that we will make efficiency savings, integrate business areas and streamline. This is an ongoing process,” she told TT.