Profits mount at Sweden’s SEB bank

Profits mount at Sweden's SEB bank
SEB CEO Annika Falkengren, March 2010
Sweden's third-largest bank, SEB, reported bumper profits on Friday thanks to a sharp reduction in credit losses in the Baltic countries.

Last year, SEB’s net profit was 6.8 billion kronor ($1.05 billion), up from 1.18 billion in 2009.

Net banking income fell 11 percent to 16.0 billion kronor because of a lower credit volume, but profit was up because of a fall in credit losses.

“Our result [in] 2010 reflects that corporate activity gained momentum towards the end of the year and that asset quality clearly improved following the Baltic stabilisation,” CEO Annika Falkengren said.

The deep economic crisis in Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia in late 2008 and 2009, hurt the 2009 earnings of major Swedish banks with activities in the region, especially Swedbank and SEB.

For the fourth quarter, SEB posted a net profit of 3.5 billion kronor with a net banking income up 8.0 percent thanks to increased lending rates in the Scandinavian countries.

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