Sweden’s Handelsbanken to stop operations in Baltic states

By bne IntelliNews May 17, 2019

Swedish bank Handelsbanken said on May 16 it was “set to gradually discontinue its operations” in the Baltic states and subsequently close its branches in Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius.

“Despite the implementation of efficiency-enhancing measures, the operations in the region have not performed satisfactorily. Profitability is too low, while costs are too high,” Handelsbanken said in a statement.

Handelsbanken also said consumers’ changing behaviour and the growing need for investment led executives to wind down Baltic operations after a decade long presence on the local markets. 

The bank posted an operating loss of SEK16mn (€1.48mn) last year. Sales amounted to just SEK21mn. The entire Handelsbanken group’s turnover was SEK43.8bn, made in the group's main markets - the Nordic countries and the UK. 

The lender is not linked to any of the money laundering scandals that have beset Nordic banks operating in the Baltic states recently. Danish lender Danske Bank and Sweden’s Swedbank are facing scrutiny over lax control of money flows in and out of their Baltic branches.

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