SEB Q4 earnings fall less than expected, ups dividend

STOCKHOLM Thu Jan 31, 2013 1:20am EST

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STOCKHOLM Jan 31 (Reuters) - Swedish banking group SEB reported on Thursday a smaller than expected fall in fourth-quarter operating profit and said it would try to boost its return on equity to 15 percent in the long term.

SEB's operating profit in the quarter fell to 2.84 billion crowns, beating a mean forecast for 2.54 billion in a Reuters poll and compared with 3.06 billion in the year-ago period. Return on equity in the quarter was 11.9 percent.

SEB said it aimed to pay a yearly dividend that was 40 percent or above of earnings per share. It raised the payout for 2012 to 2.75 crowns a share from 2011's 1.70. (Reporting by Mia Shanley, editing by Patrick Lannin)

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