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SEB

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.

ECONOMY

Swedish economy beats growth expectations

Sweden's economy grew by 0.6 percent in the first quarter from the previous three-month period, Statistics Sweden (Statistiska centralbyrån - SCB) said on Wednesday as it released fresh data that beat expectations.

Swedish economy beats growth expectations

“Sweden’s position in Europe remains strong,” Statistics Sweden said, noting Sweden had experienced growth that was “significantly higher than the European average.”

The growth, the strongest recorded in Sweden since the second quarter last year, is significantly higher than analysts’ forecasts.

They had predicted the economy would see weak growth, be flat or even contract, with a survey by Dow Jones Newswires forecasting an average increase of 0.3 percent.

Sweden’s first quarter economic health contrasts sharply with that of countries in the eurozone, of which it is not a member.

Many eurozone countries have registered weak quarterly data, such as Germany which reported 0.1 percent growth, or were in recession, such as France which saw its economy shrink by 0.2 percent.

Sweden’s “upside surprise is mainly due to stronger inventories” while “domestic demand (was) mixed,” SEB bank analyst Erica Blomgren commented on Twitter.

She said “private and public consumption (were) stronger than expected but investments (were) very weak.”

AFP/The Local/at

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