Nordea, Sweden's Largest Bank, To Cut 10% Of Workforce

Nordea is going to cut the workforce with 10% according to CEO Christian Clausen.

Christian Clausen is also President of the European Banking Federation representing the 31 banking federations in Europe:

JyllandsPosten has:


The bank announced last year that 2000 jobs would be cut during 2012. The bank still isn’t done cutting in Christian Clausen’s estimate.

Nordea Bank AB (STO:NDA-SEK) will have to limit itself, as the bank must adjust itself to stricter rules in Sweden, where Finance Minister Anders Borg has demanded 10% core capital in the 4 largest banks.

Simultaneously the banks must have 12% of the risk weighted assets before 2015. The banks will have to find that money somewhere.

The mean should be cutting of staff and rationalisation – and sending the bill on to the customers.


No doubt about it Nordea – like other banks will have to rationalise – but there is more to it than that. If you look at the Swedish banking system, which is the “big four” it isn’t Swedish at all!

Nordea, Sweden's Largest Bank, To Cut 10% Of Workforce

Nordea is one of the largest banks in all other Nordic countries – except Iceland where we all know what happened – from a bank-owned state it became state-owned banks. Nordea is 20% owned by the Swedish state as a remnant of a banking meltdown in Sweden some 20 years ago.

Only 1 in 4 of Nordea’s employees is actually employed in Sweden. For the “big four” – as a gang – the number is 1 in 3!

Now Sweden is not a member of the Euro-zone – in fact only Finland is of the Nordic countries. Norway isn’t even a member of the EU! This means that Nordea is a major opponent to CB CEO’s of at least 4 other countries. I will not contemplate the involvement in f.i. the Baltic countries or elsewhere – there is all the misery needed in the Nordic countries.

I think it is important to separate the debate about the European Union in twain:

One: The real economy of trade and production, which reasonable if by no means jubilant (ok, for some European countries downright depressing); but certainly not without hope. The hope is primarily a fairly efficient industry with Germany as the ringleader. One should not be blind to the fact that the import content of German products is to a very high degree from other EU members – German businesses don’t care who made the part – as long as price and quality is in order. There is precious little nationalistic jingoism left in European industry. German workers are well paid indeed; but they are remorselessly fired if they are not up to scratch. True the BRIC markets may not have the potential they used to have; but there is a vast market in Russia – a market that can pay with things better than cash: Oil.

Two: The financial side involving the banks and shifting of large sums of debt, which to a large extend is – if not rotten, then in very poor health. On the other hand there is large accumulated savings in pensions – with nowhere to be invested. This problem is universal – and not an EU specific problem and neither are the banks.

The ECB is primarily for the Euro-zone – or is it? The standards for banking in the Basel III agreement is a global regulatory standard on bank capital adequacy, stress testing and market liquidity risk agreed upon by the members of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision in 2010–11, and scheduled to be introduced from 2013 until 2018.

The problem with any standard is the enforcement: There is a more or less global standard that you shouldn’t cheat on your spouse; but as one in ten or four (numbers vary) have another farther than the one we think – the enforcement of that standard leaves much to be desired.

On to the banking scene comes the ECB – in recognition of a common problem: Banks making legal arbitrage across political unions and currencies. The Basel III standards are going to be enforced simply because they represent a common problem for Central Banks.

When Christian Clausen somewhat flippantly say the customers will have to pay, he is simultaneously saying that he sees little hope of raising that amount of capital for Nordea Bank AB (STO:NDA-SEK) on the market. Seen in this light his bank to a severe blow in the SAS crisis, where the origin was that Nordea had no confidence in SAS actually making the rationalisations needed – especially with their zoo of different workers unions. Nordea then closed the credit on SAS – unless the national governments coughed up with more money. The threesome harmony of PM’s just crooned: “NO way!”

It was not going to happen – there might be pay cuts of 20%; but the countries were fully prepared to let SAS go bankrupt. They even reregistered some of the newest airliners to Norway where the receivership does not have the same powers as they have in the EU. These aircraft were financed by a French bank. Birds have a habit of flying away – even aluminium ones –from the fowler.

Again Norway wasn’t that interested – they would have a domestic airline system with or without SAS, Denmark doesn’t need a domestic route network and the Swedish need a severe pruning.

Now the Scandinavian (Scandinavia is Denmark, Norway and Sweden – Nordic counties additionally include Finland and Iceland) had delivered. What we are seeing now is the next round with the ball in Nordea’s court – up to now Nordea has made a lot of swishing noises with the racket; but very little ball hitting. A 10% staff cut is not going to impress governments twisting arms for a 20% pay cut.

Nothing official has percolated yet; but the Danish Central Bank has of November 30th stopped quoting daily interest rates on sovereign bonds – where the papers has it that the 10 year actually dipped below 1%. What is hissed out between clenched teeth is rarely quotable.

My take on it (and it is thoroughly unconfirmed and only based on what is NOT said) is that Nordea Bank AB (STO:NDA-SEK) is kicked out of the Danish variable interest mortgage banking system, where Nordea (Sweden) will more or less permanently finance their variable interest one year real estate bonds. The interest of these bonds is so low, that they can’t be sold off without a guaranteed loss to Nordea Bank AB (STO:NDA-SEK) – which will keep them in the appropriate vault.

The Nordic countries have shown that they are perfectly prepared to hit the banks – the major banks: Nordea is

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