Wahlroos set to take over as Nordea chair

Swedish bank Nordea has announced that Chairman Hans Dalborg will retire next year, adding that it has put forward vice chairman Björn Wahlroos' name to take over for Dalborg.

Wahlroos set to take over as Nordea chair
Sampo Chairman and Nordea vice chairman Björn Wahlroos

Dalborg has informed the bank’s nomination committee that he will not stand for re-election at the company’s annual general meeting next in the spring of 2011, the company announced in a statement on Tuesday.

“I took over as CEO for a Swedish bank in a very critical situation in the middle of a bank crisis. I will resign as chairman of a leading European bank with a strong financial position and a clear strategy,” Dalborg said in a statement.

In an interview with newspaper Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) on Tuesday, Dalborg refused to confirm rumours that Wahlroos, the chairman of Finland’s Sampo Group, will assume his role after he departs.

The insurance company is the single largest shareholder in Nordea with a 20.6 percent stake, followed by the Swedish state with 19.8 percent.

On Wednesday, Nordea announced that it has put forward Wahlroos’ name as its new chairman.

“I am honoured by the nomination, but want to wait for the meeting’s decision before I comment further on the assignment,” Wahlroos wrote in a statement on Wednesday.

“His experience as vice president of Nordea and deep professional expertise will both provide continuity and be valuable for Nordea’s development,” added nominating committee chairman Torbjörn Magnusson.

Dalborg was appointed president and CEO of Nordbanken in 1991. After the reconstruction of Nordbanken, he implemented the Nordic merger between Nordbanken in Sweden, Merita Bank in Finland, Unibank in Denmark and Christiania Bank og Kreditkasse in Norway that resulted in Nordea in 2000.

Following the merger, Dalborg was deputy chairman for one year before becoming chairman in 2002. As chairman, Nordea has expanded profitably in Poland, the Baltic countries and Russia and is one of the largest banks in Europe.

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Sweden to increase retirement age from next year

A proposal for changes to Sweden’s pensions system could see incremental increases to retirement age beginning next year.

Sweden to increase retirement age from next year
Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT

The proposal for reform to state pensions has been agreed on by parties on both sides of the political aisle, reflecting the political agreement which provided for the new Swedish government.

Later retirement age has been justified by the claim that people in Sweden “live longer and healthier lives”, but the last twelve years of life remain characterised by illness and failing health, news agency TT writes.

According to the proposal, the minimum age at which a state pension may be drawn will increase next year from 61 to 62 years. The right to retain employment, the so-called LAS age, will also be increased, from 67 to 68 years.

“We see a problem with the fact that people who want to continue working are not able to. We will now give people the opportunity to do that,” said Mats Persson of the Liberal party, who was part of the parliamentary group behind the proposal.

In 2023, retirement ages will increase again, with the minimum state pension age changing to 63 and the LAS age to 69. The so-called guaranteed pension, which is paid to those who have had little or no pension-qualifying income during their working lives, will also see an increased age limit from 65 to 66 years.

2026 will see further extensions, to 64 years and 67 years for the regular and guaranteed pensions respectively.

In a press statement, the government wrote that longer and healthier lives made the reforms to retirement age possible. Average life expectancy in Sweden has been found to increase by 3.5 hours every day.

But longer life expectancy does not necessarily correspond to better health in senior years, according to research.

International studies led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) and the University of Washington recently found that Swedes have relatively high life expectancy – just under 82 years for both women and men – but that years with good health are considerably fewer, at just under 70 years.

Sweden fell outside of the top ten for countries with the most years of good health, the study found. Japan was the best-performing country, followed by Singapore, Andorra, Iceland and Cyprus.

The pensions proposal could therefore mean that retirement years will become increasingly unlikely to contain many years in which senior citizens can enjoy good health.

Persson told TT he disagreed with that conclusion.

“This agreement is based on the fact that we live longer as well as healthier lives. There is research to support that,” he said.

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