Eesti Pank comments on the merger plan of Swedbank and SEB
Public Relations Department
Today on 22 February at 8:15 the two major Swedish financial groups FöreningsSparbanken (Swedbank) and SEB announced their plan to merge. This would result in a new Scandinavian financial group SEB Swedbank, the total assets of which will be around 230 billion euros (2052 billion Swedish kroner). The merger of Swedish financial groups is a natural continuation of the whole consolidation process characteristic to the European banking and financial markets today. The merger of the two banks will affect competition in the Scandinavian banking market and will require the approval from both the Swedish and EU authorities.
The possible merger of the major shareholders of Hansapank and Ühispank, i.e. SEB and Swedbank, will directly influence the circle of owners of the Estonian banks. The details of the changes will depend on the legal aspect of the merger. The details known to the public so far let one assume that the majority shareholder of the Hansapank or Ühispank or both of them will change. Making any changes in the majority shareholding is subject to approval by the Bank of Estonia.
The central bank's position is that competition in the Estonian banking market must be guaranteed. That is the priority of the central bank. The central bank has enough means and possibilities to guarantee a satisfactory competition situation in the Estonian banking market. The merger or joint ownership of the two major Estonian banks is ruled out by the Bank of Estonia. The future steps depend directly on the applications that will be presented to the central bank regarding the Estonian banks.
The Bank of Estonia will be ready to publish additional comments as soon as the Swedish banks issue more detailed technical and legal information on the agreements reached. The Bank of Estonia will also immediately make a public announcement of any possible applications to change the majority shareholders of Hansapank and Ühispank. At the same time the Bank of Estonia wishes to point out that such decisions cannot be made before the merger has been approved by the owners of the two groups, all the relevant authorities of Sweden and the European Union and the deal is legally finalized.