Sweden’s Handelsbanken reports plunging profits

Handelsbanken, one of Sweden's largest banks, has reported a fall in net profit of 29 percent for the fourth quarter.

The decline was the result of increased loan losses, which rose to 696 million kronor ($85 million) from 166 million kronor the year before, and a one-off gain in 2007 which boosted the comparative figure.

Net profit fell to 4.56 billion kronor from 6.40 billion kronor a year ago, when profit included a 4.08 billion kronor gain from the sale of life insurance and pension group SPP.

The bank, Sweden’s second-biggest by capitalisation, has a more defensive profile than other big banks in Sweden after having mostly staying out of the recession-hit Baltic region.

Large specific exposures to risk-venture capitalists and Swedish and British industrial and manufacturing companies have caused significant losses in the past.

It also has a 174 million kronor exposure to collapsed US investment bank Lehman Brothers.

Shares in the company shot up, rising 9.49 percent to 129.75 kronor on the Stockholm stock exchange in early trade.


Swedish banking giant sacks its top boss

Sweden's Handelsbanken has fired its chief executive, Frank Vang-Jensen.

Swedish banking giant sacks its top boss
Frank Vang-Jensen. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

He will be replaced by Anders Bouvin, who will take up the position with immediate effect, the bank said in a statement. 

The board of the bank decided unanimously to let Vang-Jensen go after just a year and a half in the post. 

“This decision is purely related to the individual. Handelsbanken remains strong and our long-term goals stand firm,” said board chairman Pär Boman. 

He added that the post required a “special type of leadership”.

“Thus, it is possible to be an excellent leader and manager – as Frank Vang-Jensen has been – but not fulfil the requirements of CEO of Handelsbanken.” 

His successor, Anders Bouvin, has been Executive Vice President since 2002. He was posted in New York and Denmark before most recently heading up the bank’s operation in the UK.  

“Anders Bouvin has worked at Handelsbanken for more than 30 years and is totally familiar with the Bank’s working methods, culture and values. For the past ten years, he has worked at Handelsbanken in the UK, where he has built up a national branch network with stable finances, good profitability – and by far the most satisfied customers in the market,” said Boman.