* Job cuts to come in Sweden, Baltic states
* Swedbank to take 330 mln crown charge in Q4
* Shares gain 1.82 pct
(Adds Swedbank, analyst quotes)
By Oskar von Bahr
STOCKHOLM, Dec 13 Swedbank is
to cut 600 jobs in Sweden and the Baltic states and take a 330
million crown ($48 million) restructuring charge in the fourth
quarter, the bank's chief financial officer said on Tuesday.
After getting slammed by the 2009 financial crisis because
of its exposure to Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, Swedbank has
recovered relatively quickly and now has one of the highest
levels of capital among banks in Europe.
Goran Bronner, the bank's chief financial officer, told
Reuters about the job cuts two days after Swedbank suffered a
big outflow of funds in Latvia when people panicked by rumours
of troubles at Swedish banks rushed to pull cash out of their
accounts. The bank has said the panic has now calmed.
Bronner told Reuters that some 300 jobs in the Baltics and a
similar number in Sweden would have to go. Swedbank is the
latest in a string of European banks that have been forced to
slash staff to keep costs under control.
"The actions taken are going according to plan, and Swedbank
will record a small restructuring charge of about 330 million
crowns in the fourth quarter," he said.
That would be about 8 percent of the expected operating
profit in that quarter, according to Thomson Reuters Starmine
smart estimates, which give a greater weighting to analysts with
better track records. The bank employs a total 17,000 people.
Swedbank shares were quoted at 86. 90
crowns after the news, up 2.06 percent, outperforming
the wider European banking index, which was up slightly.
The Stockholm bourse was up 1.8 percent.
" It is good for them that they can show they
are managing costs without a major programme, which can often be
disrupting ," said Francis Dallaire, an analyst at
Pareto Ohman, adding that shares were getting support as worries
in Latvia eased.
Swedbank spokesman Thomas
Backteman said there was no unusual activity at
its Latvian branch network or ATMs on
Tuesday after a surge of rumours on Sunday about the
stability of Swedish banks caused thousands of people in the
Baltic state to pull their funds out of Swedbank and rival
Backteman said Swedbank had seen around 45-50
million lats ($85-95 million) of withdrawals above what it would
normally expect in a three-day period.
Bronner said the Swedbank cuts would partly be
made in the Large Corporate and Institutions (LC&I) business
area. Group functions and back office personnel added during the
last financial crisis would also have to go.
Swedbank hinted at staff cuts within LC&I in November but
did not say how many would be affected.
European banks have kept a close eye on costs as they try to
maintain profitability in the face of stricter regulations on
capital and liquidity.
Nordea, the Nordic region's biggest bank, has
already announced plans to shed 6 percent of its staff.
Bronner told Reuters earlier this month that the bank would
have less room for buybacks for shareholders because of the
country's capital requirements, which are tougher than the
global Basel III banking rules.
Thomson Reuters Starmine smart estimates show analysts
expect a 4.1 billion Swedish crown operating profit in the
fourth quarter, a touch lower than the 4.3 billion reported in
the third quarter.
($1 = 6.8504 Swedish crowns)
(Reporting by Oskar von Bahr; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford
and Will Waterman)