Swedbank in Stormy Seas

  • 2008-10-09

With shares plummeting, credit rating downgraded, customers withdrawing deposits en mass and rumors proclaiming the end is nigh; Swedbank is stealing the headlines, but for all the wrong reasons. 
So how to answer the question on everyone's lips 's is Swedbank sinking, or merely out at sea?
The bank has been quick to deny speculation that the company is in peril, let alone about to go under; but then again, it's the captain's responsibility to make sure passengers stay calm and remain seated, is it not?
With Swedbank seemingly hanging on the brink; it would be corporate suicide for CEO Jan Liden to show any signs of doubt now, although most suspect he might secretly be having second thoughts about dabbling in the Baltic market.

Bank's shares have plunged by a colossal 60 percent in the last year. As the Swedish government has had to double its deposit guarantee scheme to stop clients emptying their accounts, it's fair to say that customer confidence is pretty much rock bottom.
But before I jump on the bandwagon and stroll down to my local Swedbank to withdraw my life savings and stuff them in a pillow 's is there really anything to be afraid of?

Despite the fireworks, Swedbank is still performing rather well, having documented record profits in the first half of the year and continues to produce respectable results even now.
Further still, if worst comes to worst and Swedbank does find itself in hot water, it's not like they don't have anywhere to turn to. The Swedish central bank, the Riksbanken, is bound to provide loans in the short term. It pays to keep in mind that the Swedish state has intervened and saved troubled banks in the past.
And if worst really comes to worst, and neither the Riksbanken nor the Swedish state comes to the rescue, then it's somewhat probable that Swedbank will be bought up and incorporated into another bank.
What's more, if you've banked under 15,000 's 22,000 euros (varying on state) then your savings are safeguarded by national deposit guarantee schemes anyway.

So why the big fuss?
Excuse the hypocrisy, but the finger of blame lies on the media; with the global economy ailing, sensationalist news outlets are pouncing on any sign of weakness. In the current climate a company so much as flinches and business reporters are scribbling a eulogy.
Only last week did Eesti Paevaleht speculate that Swedbank might be going under 's because an unnamed source made an unconfirmed claim that the Riksbanken's training session included a section dealing with the hypothetical collapse of the central bank.

With the increasing prevalence of shock tactics in the Baltic press, one can't help but wonder whether there might be more truth than speculation behind allegations that someone is subverting Swedbank's reputation for a cheap buy on the stock exchange.
On a more serious note: it's the media's responsibility to start reporting the complete picture rather than profiteering off disingenuous melodrama and for credibility's sake a change needs to come along soon.