Handelsbanken to sell stake in owner Industrivarden

STOCKHOLM, Aug 24 (Reuters) - Swedish bank Handelsbanken said on Wednesday it planned to sell its 29.4 million shares in its parent Industrivarden to institutional investors.

The sale would represent a further dismantling of a web of cross-holdings in Industrivarden, and companies in which it holds major stakes, since real estate magnate Fredrik Lundberg took over as chairman at the investment firm last year.

Handelsbanken said it was selling A series shares in Industrivarden equal to 6.8 percent of capital and 10.3 percent of shareholder votes. The investment firm in turn owns a 10.2 percent voting stake in Handelsbanken, making it the biggest owner save for the bank’s own pension foundation, Oktagonen.

“Handelsbanken has decided to offer all such shares to institutional investors through an accelerated bookbuilding,” the bank said in a brief statement outlining the planned sale of the Industrivarden shares.

Handelsbanken’s stake in Industrivarden was worth just over 4.7 billion Swedish crowns ($559 million), based on the closing price of the stock in Stockholm on Wednesday.

The cross-holdings between some of Industrivarden’s companies, which also include Swedish blue chips such as truck maker Volvo and telecoms group Ericsson, have been criticised by Swedish pension funds for creating an opaque structure that limited outside influence.

After Lundberg took over as Industrivarden chairman last year the firm has taken steps to unwind the cross-holdings, for example when hygiene products maker SCA sold its Industrivarden stake late last year.

The bank said Morgan Stanley and Handelsbanken Capital Markets were acting as joint bookrunners in the transaction. (Reporting by Niklas Pollard; Editing by Susan Fenton)