RIGA - Swedbank has announced that Maris Mancinskis will take over as the new head of its Latvian branch, one of the largest banks in the country. On Feb. 12, Mancinskis will take over for current head Maris Avotins.
Avotins will continue working with Swedbank, spokeswoman Kristine Kajubovska said. New head Mancinskis will also be on the Swedbank Baltic board.
The bank has not supplied any explanation for the change in leadership, but many speculate that the worsening economic situation has prompted the switch.
According to a recent outlook on the Baltic's by Swedbank, the widespread financial crisis may continue into 2010 (see story Page 12).
"The year 2010 will not bring positive growth, albeit the year-end growth rates may turn positive," Maris Lauri, the chief macro analyst at Tallinn's Swedbank, said in the outlook. Lauri predicted that Latvia's GDP may shrink by 2 percent.
Swedbank's Baltic group head Erkki Raasuke said that despite difficult times, Mancinskis will be an asset in helping to deal with financial problems. Raasuke also said that banks have the responsibility to prove themselves capable of managing complicated developments.
"Our focus will be put on financing and credit risks, including the necessity to assess and reduce risks. Mancinskis will contribute to our competence in this economic situation," said Raasuke.
The Baltic group head was pleased about Mancinskis' return to the Baltic Swedbank team, following his work as head of the bank's Russian branch.
"His experience, knowledge and personal strengths are needed to carefully navigate us and our clients through the emerging business challenges. [In] taking the lead in the Latvian operations, he is re-entering the organization and already has a good relationship with our clients," said Raasuke.
Mancinskis himself is pleased to be returning to the Baltics, and to Latvia's Swedbank, and hopes to come out strong in years to come.
"I believe that we are well positioned and have the internal strengths to successfully manage the bank through difficult next few years and to become a stronger and more efficient organization in this process," he told reporters.
Raasuke said that the change is not a result of poor work by Avotins. Raasuke said in a press release that Swedbank Latvia became stronger under Avotins' leadership. Avotins took over the position in 2007 from Ingrida Bluma.
Spokeswoman Jakubovska told reporters that Avotins will continue his work with Swedbank, working alongside Michael Wolf, who is due to be sworn in as CEO of Swedbank in March 2009. Avotins is slated to work in international transactions.
Mancinskis has 14 years experience in the financial sector both in Latvia and internationally. In 1999 he began working with Hansabanka, now Swedbank, in the financial markets sector. Since 2006 he has been the head of Swedbank's Russian branch, gaining experience in the Russian market.
Swedbank is the largest Latvian bank by assets. Swedbank has 9 million retail customers and 600,000 corporate customers with 300 branches in the Baltic states.