Swedes acquire one-fifth of Hansapank

  • 1998-09-03
  • By Kairi Kurm
TALLINN - The Swedish bank group, Swedbank, increased its stake in the largest Estonian bank group Hansapank to a strategic 20 percent.

Swedbank's key priority was to bring its stake in Hansapank to the same level as it had earlier in Hoiupank. The Swedish bank group had a 19.9 percent stake in Hoiupank, but after it merged with Hansapank, its share in the new bank group went down to 6.97 percent.
According to the Estonian daily Sonumileht, Swedbank remains interested in the Baltic banking sector and its activities on the Estonian market are of a long term nature.

After acquiring 20 percent of Hansapank's shares, the Swedish bank has to get permission from the Bank of Estonia to hold these shares. Banks need permission from the central bank for each 10 percent of any bank's shares they acquire.

Hansapank has plans to increase its share capital by 10 percent this year and find a strategic partner. The leaders of Hansapank are not quite sure about the future plans of Swedbank and believe that Swedbank does not want to increase its stake any more.

Swedbank bought the shares of Hansapank through different Scandinavian investment companies. Hansapank's stock price increased by 65 percent during the last two weeks, and the turnover of Hansapank's shares was more than 80 percent of the total turnover of the Tallinn Stock Exchange.

The other big owner of Hansapank is MeritaNordbanken, which controls about 28 percent of Hansapank's shares.

According to unofficial sources, another Scandinavian bank, Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken, has also been actively trading with Hansapank shares. Some local speculators have come on the market selling other stocks to buy Hansapank shares.

The continued buying pressure from Scandinavian investors increased the Estonian stock market's activity contrary to falling activity on the world markets during the last two weeks.

However, brokers say once the buying interest of the Hansapank shares decreases market activity could fall.