* Q4 op profit 5.0 bln SEK vs 4.7 bln analyst forecast
* Raises 2013 dividend to 4.00 crowns/share, beating expectations
* Says Nordic countries showing resilience (Adds details, quotes)
STOCKHOLM, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Swedish banking group SEB sharply raised its dividend for 2013 and said the Nordic region was showing resilience as it reported a stronger-than-expected rise in fourth-quarter profits.
The bank’s generous dividend payout for the year contrasts with Nordea and Swedbank last week, which took a more cautious stance on capital due to uncertainty over regulations in the region and forecasts for weak loan growth. (ID:nL5N0L20DW]
SEB CEO Annika Falkengren said Europe remained a weak spot, but that SEB’s main markets were holding up well.
“The Nordic countries have shown resilience and GDP-growth is expected to be above the euro zone average,” she said. “The Baltic countries have continued to show high growth numbers.”
Swedish rival Handelsbanken said earlier on Tuesday it would pay an extraordinary dividend.
SEB’s operating profit in the quarter rose nearly 80 percent to 5.01 billion Swedish crowns ($768 million), beating a mean forecast for 4.68 billion in a Reuters poll and compared with 4.62 billion in the year-ago period.
SEB, which has a dividend policy to pay out 40 percent or above of its earnings per share, said it would pay out 4.00 crowns a share for 2013, corresponding to a 59 percent payout ratio. That was above an analyst forecast for 3.54 crowns per share and compared with 2.75 in 2012.
$1 = 6.5255 Swedish crowns Reporting by Mia Shanley and Johan Ahlander