RIGA - Although Swedish bank SEB has not yet recovered all that was lost during the financial crisis, overall, the bank’s operations have recently been profitable in Latvia, SEB bank President Ainars Ozols said in an interview with Rietumu Radio on Feb. 26, reports LETA.
“Overall, we have been operating with a small profit, but profit nonetheless, since SEB entered Latvia in 1993; however, following the crisis, we have not yet recovered what we lost,” confirmed Ozols. It is not a goal of the bank though to recover the lost money as soon as possible, but to organize operations so it would function without losses in the future.
2013 was a successful year for SEB bank - there were positive trends, new clients joined the bank and it began implementation of new projects, said Ozols. In terms of profits, 2013 was a “mediocre” year, however.
“There also were several complicated situations and difficulties, of which one was problems with Liepajas metalurgs. They took up a lot of time and effort,” said Ozols, adding that SEB bank had been the Liepaja company’s cooperation partner for several years.
Ozols is optimistic about Latvia’s economic development in the future, but he believes that there are no grounds to expect an economic breakthrough.
“Sometimes we like to say lofty-sounding phrases, such as the economic breakthrough, but [in Latvia’s case] this should rather be stable development over a longer period of time,” said Ozols.
According to SEB annual reports, during the past ten years SEB Group in Latvia operated with losses during just one year - in 2009 when the group posted a loss of 128.9 million lats (183.4 million euros) in Latvia. The next four years, the group’s total profit reached 140.2 million euros.
Since 2004, SEB Group’s total profit in Latvia is approximately 246 million euros.
SEB Group’s net profit in Latvia amounted to 18.1 million lats in 2013, or 29 percent more than in 2012. The amount of deposits at the bank grew 19 percent, whereas the bank’s loan portfolio at the end of 2013 was roughly at the same level as at the beginning of last year.
SEB Group’s revenue in Latvia reached 85 million lats, which is 8 percent more than in 2012. Costs increased 2 percent to 38.8 million lats.
The bank’s profit before savings reached 46.2 million lats, which is 14 percent more than in 2012.