Nordic fight to host Nordea heats up as rumours of Sweden departure swirl

A tug of war between Sweden, Denmark and Finland over where Nordic banking giant Nordea should base its head office in the future is beginning to heat up.

Nordic fight to host Nordea heats up as rumours of Sweden departure swirl
The Nordea head office in Stockholm. Photo: Marcus Ericsson/TT

Last week Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet reported that the bank had decided to move its headquarters from Stockholm, citing well-informed sources, but Nordea's head of press quickly poured cold water on the story by saying a decision had not yet been made.

In the days since, politicians from all three countries have given their two cents on a possible move, with Swedish finance minister Magdalena Andersson insisting that Sweden won't be lured into a race to the bottom to try and keep the company in Stockholm.

“The government works to make Sweden an attractive location to have your head office in. But we'll never get into a race to the bottom and risk financial stability. Because that's something we have experience of in Sweden, that it can be a risk for tax payers to have banks that aren't stable,” she told Swedish journalists in Brussels.

Finnish finance minister Petteri Orpo meanwhile said the company would be welcome in Finland, promising a stable environment.

“First and foremost it’s Nordea's decision. They're welcome in Finland, but we wont give them any kind of special offer,” he told Swedish news agency TT.

Some of the attractions of moving to Finland for Nordea could be softer capital requirements as well as more stable fees for resolution and deposit guarantees.

“We're a member of the (EU) banking union and that means we have very stable circumstances for Nordea, and that's probably the best we can offer them,” Orpo added.

The Finnish minister admitted he has had personal contact with Nordea in recent weeks:

“I have met Nordea representatives. They informed me that they are considering where their head office should be located in the future and said that they will make their decision during the summer”.

Denmark's finance minister Kristian Jensen is equally keen to see the bank move to their capital, Copenhagen.

“It's clear that every country is interested in having employers and Nordea is an interesting employer to have. As such we'd of course be happy if Nordea chose to move to Copenhagen,” Jensen told journalists in Brussels.

Jensen also dismissed comments from his Swedish colleague Andersson who said that Sweden did not want to compete with slack regulation “like the Danish government”.

“Denmark does not have any weak regulation. Denmark has an attractive environment for financial services. Several big companies have chosen to base their head offices in Denmark, and Nordea would be welcome, if they want that”.

With total assets worth 6,340 billion kronor and lending to both business and homes in the region of 3,100 billion kronor, Nordea involves a significant risk for its host nation regardless of which one it is, according to Copenhagen Business School professor Jesper Rangvid.

The banking giant’'s balance sheet total is over 1,000 billion kronor greater than the entire Swedish economy, around double Denmark’s GDP, and three times the Finnish economy. 

READ ALSO: Nordea's Dutch merger rejected


Öresund Bridge set to get new permanent speed cameras

The Danish government plans to place permanent speed checks from next year on the country’s two largest bridges, the Öresund Bridge that links the country to Sweden, and the Great Belt Bridge.

Öresund Bridge set to get new permanent speed cameras
The Öresund Bridge between Sweden and Denmark. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Permanent speed cameras will be set up from next year on the Great Belt Bridge, the 18-kilometre long fixed link connecting Zealand with Funen which was completed in 1998.

The no-less impressive Öresund Bridge, which crosses from the Swedish coast to the artificial Danish island of Peberholm, which is connected to Copenhagen via tunnel, will get the same treatment, the Ministry of Transport said in a statement.

The speed cameras will measure the average speed of motorists on sections of the bridges.

A law change will be required to enable to cameras to be fixed in place, but that appears to be a formality with the equipment already on order.

The government said that installing cameras on the bridges would solving a persistent problem with speeding motorists on the crossings.

“We have unfortunately a very big and general challenge here (in Denmark) with drivers who drive far, far too fast,” Transport Minister Benny Engelbrecht said in a statement.

“In this context it is natural to give an extra push to the last part of the project with (automatic speed checks) which will help us to catch speed sinners on our two largest bridge connections,” he added.

2020 saw 9.6 million cars and 1.5 million trucks cross the Great Belt Bridge. For the Öresund Bridge, those figures were 3.9 million and 600,000 respectively.

The latter bridge saw less traffic than usual last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Swedish vocabulary:

speed camera – fartkamera

bridge – bro

car – bil

speeding – fortkörning

truck – lastbil