December 7, 2018 / 10:16 AM / in 4 days

UPDATE 1-Norwegian Finance plans European banking operation

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OSLO, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Norwegian Finance Holding (NOFI) , which is part owned by Norwegian Air, plans to launch banking services in Europe outside of the Nordic region, it said on Friday.

NOFI said it has set up a European banking operation jointly with HBK Holding, the investment firm controlled by Norwegian Air Chief Executive Bjoern Kjos, and it will apply for a banking licence in Ireland.

Operating under the brand name Bank Norwegian, NOFI has seen rapid growth since its 2007 launch and now has a higher stock market value than the airline from which it was created.

“The bank’s existing business and customer growth in the Nordic region is very strong and continues to be positive. We will now increase our efforts to export the business model to other markets in Europe,” NOFI’s CEO Tine Wollebekk said.

The banking services operation is registered in Ireland and called Lilienthal Finance Limited, of which NOFI will initially own at least 40 percent.

Lilienthal will have the same rights to use Norwegian’s brand in Europe outside the Nordic region as Bank Norwegian has in the Nordics.

Norwegian Air is NOFI’s biggest shareholder with a 16.4 percent stake.

“We have entered into an agreement that allows the bank’s shareholders, including (Norwegian Air) itself, the opportunity to capitalize on the values associated with the Norwegian brand along with efficient operations and digital banking solutions,” Bjoern Kjos said in a statement.

NOFI’s shares rose on the news to trade up 6.6 percent at 70.8 crowns by 1000 GMT. Norwegian Air, which fell sharply on Thursday following weak November traffic data, rose 6.4 percent. (Reporting by Terje Solsvik; Editing by Susan Fenton and Gareth Jones)

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