RIGA - SEB Latvijas Unibanka announced that it would eventually launch life insurance services in Latvia, a new strategic direction for the bank.
Spokesman Haralds Burkovskis told the Baltic News Service that either this year or next the bank would decide whether to set up a new life insurance company or to buy an existing one. It is possible that SEB Trygg Liv insurance company, a part of the SEB group, will launch its life insurance services in Latvia through the free movement of services.
Burkovskis stressed that Latvia was the only state where SEB operates without providing life insurance services. He admitted that the costs of establishing a new firm would be relatively high, and incur additional risks. However, the purchase of an existing business would provide SEB Unibanka the know-how and experience of that company.
"We are active in our search," Burkovskis said, noting that the bank had so far considered several companies.
Since the bank has not yet launched any negotiations, Burkovskis did not confirm reports by the Dienas Bizness daily that SEB intended to buy Balta Dziviba life insurer, part of the Balta insurance group.
Balta Chairman Jesper Rasmussen said that the group was not planning to sell its company in the near future. "These are only rumours, and they do not deserve any comments," he said.
SEB Unibanka has no plans of stepping into the non-life insurance market, according to its spokesman Burkovskis.
Latvia's Hansabanka also announced that it would start offering life insurance services with an option to accumulate funds from June 1.
There are currently five life insurance companies operating in Latvia 's Seesam Life Latvia, Sampo Dziviba, Balta Dziviba, ERGO Latvija Dziviba and Baltikums Dziviba.
SEB Latvijas Unibanka, owned by the Scandinavian group Skandinavska Enskilda Banken, is the third largest bank by assets.