STOCKHOLM Jan 24 Sweden's government said it
had decided reluctantly to implement EU rules restricting the
number of board positions people in systemically important
financial companies can hold from July this year, turning down
the industry's request for a delay.
The decision is a disappointment for Sweden's financial
institutions, which had lobbied hard for a transition period and
where it is common practice for people to sit on multiple boards
across a number of sectors.
The EU capital requirement directive - known as CRD IV -
aims at limiting risks in the financial system and will cap the
number of board positions a person can hold at systemically
important institutions to four.
"This is not a proposal which we have driven," Swedish
Financial Markets Minister Peter Norman told Reuters.
"We are hesitant, but now there is a large majority of
countries in Europe which think that this is good. We do not
belong to them, but in the EU it is give and take ... and this
is what the banks have to stick to."
The rules are likely to affect Sweden's four largest banks -
Nordea, Handelsbanken, SEB - and
Swedbank and members of Sweden's wealthy Wallenberg
SEB Chairman Marcus Wallenberg is also chairman of Saab
, Electrolux and LKAB, as well as director
of a handful of other companies. SEB deputy chairman Jacob
Wallenberg also chairs Investor, which is the bank's
biggest owner, and is deputy chairman of both Scandinavian
airline SAS and Ericsson, as well as a
director of ABB.
"One can say that the information from the government comes
very late," Investor's head of communications told news agency
TT, adding that it would be holding meetings on the matter.
The Swedish Bankers' Association said it was disappointed by
the news as it had asked for a one-year transition period. It
expects to have a final proposal from the government at the end
"We have to know as quickly as possible what the final rule
is," Johan Hansing, head of the economics department at the
Bankers' Association, told Reuters. "The election process for
the banks is going on right now."
Nordea, the region's biggest bank, had no comment.
It reports quarterly earnings next week along with Swedbank,
while rivals Handelsbanken and SEB report
the following week.
(Reporting by Mia Shanley and Daniel Dickson, additional
reporting by Johan Ahlander; editing by Tom Pfeiffer)