Nordea posts profit despite low interest rate

Cost-cutting has paid off for Swedish bank Nordea, which posted a stable 2013 profit on Wednesday despite falling interest rates.

Nordea posts profit despite low interest rate
Nordea chairman Björn Wahlroos at an event last year. Photo: Magnus Hjalmarson Neideman/TT

Swedish bank Nordea posted on Wednesday a stable profit for 2013 despite a low-growth environment and falling interest rates, thanks to a cost-cutting programme. The yearly net profit slightly decreased to 3.116 billion euros ($4.261 billion) in 2013 from 3.126 in 2012, and revenue fell by one percent to 9.891
billion euros.

"2013 was another year of low growth and interest rates declined to record-low levels," chief executive Christian Clausen said in a statement. "For the 13th consecutive quarter, we have kept costs flat."

In the fourth quarter, net profit dropped by eight percent to 773 million euros, falling short of the 845 million euros predicted by analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires.

The revenue for the quarter remained stable at 2.426 billion euros. The company said it expected the challenging economic environment to continue "for a prolonged period of time."

"We expect that the loan demand and customer activity will be at a lower level than we foresaw last year," Clausen said. "As a consequence we will accelerate and expand our cost efficiency programme. This will enable us to adjust our capacity to the lower activity level and to maintain our position as a strong bank."

Nordea said that its costs fell overall by 210 million euros in 2013. The cost-cutting programme, launched in the fourth quarter of 2012 with an ambition to save 450 million euros during 2013 to 2015, will now be expanded, according to the bank.

"We are seeing many of these initiatives delivering better than expected and in addition we will also accelerate the efficiency programme," Clausen said. "Thus, we have raised the ambition from 450 million euros towards a level of 900 million euros during 2013 to 2015."

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Police to investigate Nordea bank over money laundering

Danish police will investigate the Swedish bank Nordea after a year-long probe by regulators into money laundering led to "criticism" of its procedures, the bank said Friday.

Police to investigate Nordea bank over money laundering
Photo: Marcus Ericsson / TT

Detectives will examine how money laundering rules were followed at the bank's Danish subsidiary and could result in “sanctions”, Nordea said in a statement.

“We realize that we initially underestimated the complexity and the time it takes to change our procedures,” said Nordea chief executive Casper von Koskull.

The bank added that 850 Nordea employees are currently involved in the fight against money laundering which the bank plans to increase to 1,150 by the end of the year.

In May 2015 the bank was fined 50 million kronor (€5.4 million euros) – the maximum possible – by Swedish regulators who accused Nordea of “not following money laundering rules for several years” and failing to “evaluate the risks of (doing business with) certain clients”.