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UPDATE 1-Nordic bank Nordea set to move HQ out of Sweden -report
May 19, 2017 / 3:28 PM / 6 months ago

UPDATE 1-Nordic bank Nordea set to move HQ out of Sweden -report

* Nordea to make formal decision on May 30 - report

* Bank considering move to avoid Swedish fee hike

* Nordea spokesman says no decision taken yet (Adds Nordea spokesman, background)

By Johan Sennero

STOCKHOLM, May 19 (Reuters) - Nordea, the Nordic region’s biggest bank, has decided to move its headquarters from Sweden and will take a formal decision later this month, Svenska Dagbladet reported on Friday, citing undisclosed sources.

Europe’s eighth-biggest bank by market capitalization had threatened to move HQ if the Swedish government went ahead with plans to hike fees paid by banks to a fund intended to shield tax payers in a future financial crisis.

Swedish regulators have already imposed some of the toughest capital requirements in Europe and Nordea says its fees would rise to around 6 billion Swedish crowns in 2019 from 500 million in 2016 under the proposal put forward this year.

Daily Svenska Dagbladet said the decision would be made formally by Nordea’s board on May 30.

“There is no such decision, but it is our aim that the board will have enough information so that they are able to make a decision on whether we are going to move before the summer,” Rodney Alfven, Nordea’s head of investor relations, said.

Finland and Denmark have said they would welcome Nordea, and some analysts have warned that if it its HQ out of Sweden it could scare off investors in the longer term as well as costing jobs and tax revenue for the government.

Under Swedish rules, Nordea had to hold around 22 percent of risk-weighted assets at the end of the fourth quarter. The bank has just over 7,000 employees in Sweden, but a move would only be likely to include a handful senior staff, Alfven said.

Danske Bank has estimated that Nordea’s capital requirement would fall to 14-15 percent if it moved to Finland where it would be supervised by the European Central Bank.

Freeing-up capital would “allow for a significantly higher dividend pay out than consensus forecasts”, Danske said.

It expects Nordea to move its headquarters to Finland during the year and raised its share price target on the stock to 135 crowns from 114 crowns.

Earlier this year Swedish Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson played down the effect of a Nordea move, saying it would reduce risks for the Swedish tax-payer. (Additional reporting and writing by Simon Johnson; Editing by Niklas Pollard and Alexander Smith)

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