Catching-up Strategies in CESEE Economies
Edited by Ewald Nowotny, Peter Mooslechner and Doris Ritzberger-Grünwald
Chapter 28: Challenges for Banking in the CESEE Region – the Case of Swedbank Baltic Banking
Håkan Berg In 2010 Swedbank celebrated its 190th anniversary. Our bank has its roots in the Swedish savings bank tradition, the origins of which date back as far as the early 1820s. From a more recent perspective, Swedbank is the result of the merger of the major Swedish savings banks with the cooperative Föreningsbanken. When I entered the Swedish banking industry in the mid-1980s, banks were primarily retail banks focusing on retail and small and medium-sized clients in Sweden. At the time of writing, Swedbank continues to be a full-service bank for both private individuals and companies. It continues to apply a traditional banking model, but it has become more international, and it has grown to serve 9.5 million private customers and 669 000 corporate customers, from 356 branches in Sweden and 222 branches in the Baltic countries. The Swedbank group is, moreover, present in Copenhagen, Helsinki, Kaliningrad, Luxembourg, Marbella, Moscow, New York, Oslo, Shanghai, St Petersburg and Ukraine. In September 2010, the balance sheet amounted to SEK 1846 billion and the number of employees totalled about 17 500. During the financial crisis that hit Sweden at the beginning of the 1990s, Swedbank almost went bankrupt but it eventually managed to recover and was soon afterwards listed on the Swedish stock exchange. In the aftermath of the crisis huge changes were implemented as a result of which the bank developed a reputation in the market of being ‘boring but safe’. Against this backdrop, Swedbank started expanding to new...
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