* Q1 op profit 4.9 bln SEK vs forecast for 4.7 bln in poll
* Commission income tops expectations
* Says Ukraine events could lead to more cautious business
(Adds background, details)
STOCKHOLM, April 25 Swedish banking group SEB
reported on Friday a bigger-than-expected rise in
first-quarter operating profit on the back of strong commission
income but sounded a warning over a potential spillover of
problems in Ukraine.
SEB, the first of the Nordic banks to report earnings for
the quarter, said the improved market sentiment at the end of
2013 had carried on into 2014 with corporate activity in the
Nordics and Germany developing positively.
CEO Annika Falkengren added, however, that the recovery was
bumpy with the eurozone still hampered by high debt and high
There are also concerns over how things may play out in the
Baltics, where SEB is a major player, due to the conflict
between Russia and Ukraine.
"The elevated geopolitical risks following the distressing
events in Ukraine, may impact trade flows and lead to a more
cautious business sentiment going forward, particularly in the
Baltic countries," Falkengren said.
Nordic banks outperformed their European counterparts last
year thanks to a solid regional economic backdrop. SEB shares,
up about 36 percent from a year ago, outperformed a near 20
percent rise in the STOXX Europe 600 banks index.
Buoyant equity markets and a return of corporate confidence
has led to a flurry of listings and deals in recent months and
SEB, long the Nordic region's go-to corporate bank, is expected
to benefit in the coming quarters from the pent up demand for
its services as recovery takes hold.
Already, commission income in the quarter landed at 3.7
billion Swedish crowns, above forecasts.
Operating profit in the quarter rose to 4.9 billion Swedish
crowns ($739 million), beating a mean forecast for 4.7 billion
in a Reuters poll and compared with 3.7 billion in the year-ago
($1 = 6.5777 Swedish Crowns)
(Reporting by Mia Shanley and Johan Ahlander,; Editing by