Swedbank boosts stake inHansa to over 90 percent

  • 2005-04-06
  • From wire reports
TALLINN - Despite getting off to a rocky start, ForeningsSparbanken (Swed-bank) has managed to increase its stake in Hansabank to over 90 percent. Bank officials announced that they made their calculation based on additional share purchases on the open market, notices from shareholders about accepting the cash offer, as well as confirmations and notices in writing about the intention to accept the offer.

Together with Swedbank's original 60 percent holding, these shares make up more than 90 percent of the total number of shares in Hansabank, bankers said.

Eventually, however, Swedbank will boost its total stake to 95 percent, bank officials said, which would allow it to take over all remaining shares. Asked how soon this could happen, Swedbank's corporate communication director, Henrik Kolga, said that it would take a few months.

Under Estonian law the owner of 90 percent of shares in a company can appeal to shareholders to takeover the last remaining shares, a move which must be supported by 95 percent of votes represented at the meeting.

Originally, Swedbank offered 11 euros per share, though meeting stiff resistance, it eventually jacked up the price to 13.5 euros.

Swedbank's takeover offer for minority shares of the Baltic states' largest financial group ended April 4.

Meanwhile, a Swedish business paper speculated that Swedbank's original strategy of being co-owner in its Baltic banks cost it more than SEB, which was quicker to buy out minority stakeholders.

The Svenska Dagbladet daily wrote that SEB, owner of Uhispank, Latvijas Unibanka and Vilniaus Bankas, invested 4 billion Swedish kronor (438 million euros) in the Baltic banks.

By contrast, Swedbank's expenditures in acquiring the Hansabank group may amount to 20 billion Swedish kronor, the newspaper wrote.

In 1998, Swedbank bought 50 percent of the shares of Hansabank for 2.3 billion Swedish kronor, with every percent of control amounting to 47 million kronor. In its recent cash offer that just ended this month, Swedbank paid some 390 million kronor for 1 percent of control over the Baltic states' largest banking group.

Indeed, Swedbank's strategy has changed, the newspaper wrote. If at the end of the 1990s the bank mulled reducing its shareholding in Hansa to 35 percent, then now it wants to get all shares in the group under its control. That change in strategy has cost it billions of kronor.

The difference in SEB and Swedbank's investments 's 16 billion Swedish kronor 's is a lot of money even for a large Swedish bank, Svenska Dagbladet wrote.