Swedbank pulls out of state bank rescue plan

Swedbank's board has announced that the bank will leave the Swedish government's bank rescue programme with immediate effect as the bank credit market has stabilized.

The bank pointed out in a statement announcing its decision on Friday that Swedbank had not had cause to borrow under the programme since July 2009.

“Achieving financial independence was one of the main arguments behind Swedbank’s rights issue in August 2009. Leaving the formal government guarantee programme is another step in the process,” said CEO Michael Wolf.

The state guarantee programme gave the bank access to finance during the turbulent period from autumn 2008 until summer 2009. The guarantee has been a key factor in the Swedish banking system remaining relatively strong during and after the financial crisis, Swedbank chairperson Lars Idermark said.

Swedbank has borrowed 200 billion kronor ($27.7 billion) since July 2009 in long-term financing from sources outside the state loans programme.

During the first quarter of this year, the bank has borrowed 100 billion kronor, which represents more than two-thirds of total long-term loans which will fall due during the year, the bank wrote.

Swedbank has borrowed a total of 412.2 billion kronor within the state guarantee since 2008. 234.8 billion kronor is made up of short-term maturities. At the end of the first quarter of this year, Swedbank had 201.5 billion kronor in outstanding loans.

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Swedish bank’s IT fault puts customer accounts in the red

A technical problem at Sweden's Swedbank on Thursday night gave customers a nasty surprise, with their account balances inexplicably going negative, payments impossible, and Swish payments no longer working.

Swedish bank's IT fault puts customer accounts in the red

By 11.30pm, more than 2,000 Swedbank customers had reported the fault to the site Downdetector, and the problem was still not solved by 17.00pm on Friday. 

“We have an ongoing IT disruption where certain customers see an incorrect balance on their accounts,” a message on the bank’s app read. “The reason is a planned update to our internal systems which went wrong. We apologise, of course, for that and are working as quickly as possible to fix the problem.” 

The Swish payment service has also been affected, with the service, which is owned collectively by Swedish banks, reporting on its site that there was a “technical disruption at Swedbank and Sparbank which might affect Swish payments from these banks”. 

Some Swedbank customers posted their negative account balances on Twitter, expressing shock at the incorrect figures. 

The disruption comes at the worst possible time for many Swedes. Many people are paid on the 25th of the month, meaning this Friday marks the start of the payday weekend. Many will have also scheduled their bill payments for this Friday. 

Marko Saric from Malmö saw his account balance drop by 1.2 million kronor, going half a million kronor into the red. 

“It’s just totally crazy,” he told SVT. “We were going to go out and shop for the weekend. It’s lovely weather and the kids want to go out, but we can’t use our card. We’ve got no cash. Everything is in the bank.” 

“You’re just completely blocked. Colleagues need to make emergency food parcels for you. It’s just crazy that something like this should happen.” 

In its statement, the bank assured customers that their money was “secure”, and that the bank still had the correct information on what their account balance should be. 

“Customers who feel that they have suffered economic damage as a result of the disruption should contact the bank,” the message said.