The sale means the government will have completely abandoned its role as a shareholder in Nordea. It is also one of the final chapters in a massive restructuring of Sweden’s banking sector set in motion in the early 1990s when the nation was hit by a severe financial crisis.
“The role of the government is to regulate banks, not to own them,” said Peter Norman, minister for financial markets, in a statement.
“Therefore, it’s the government’s objective to sell off all the rest of its shares in the bank.”
“The sale is aimed at Swedish and international institutional investors,” the statement said, without giving more detail.
The government said that it would use the proceeds of the sale to reduce public debt.
Swedish business daily Dagens Industri said that “everyone comes out a winner from the sale” — from the government, which can offset its budget deficit, to the bank itself, which now has just one major shareholder, Finnish life insurance group Sampo.
Nordea was nationalized in 1992 when the state took over several struggling
banks, but since 1995 the state has gradually reduced its involvement in the
The 284 million government shares have a combined value of 22.5 billion Swedish kronor ($3.5 billion), based on the current market value.
In June, the government sold off 6.4 percent of the shares in Nordea for a total of €2.3 billion.
Nordea shares dropped by 3-percent Wednesday when the Stockholm Stock
Exchange opened, but recovered some ground in the late morning.