Hansapank storms into Lithuania

  • 1999-01-14
  • Kairi Kurm
TALLINN - After taking over Latvia, Hansapank is moving into Lithuania and is planning to start banking activities there next month.

It has already obtained permission from the Bank of Lithuania to open a Vilnius office and hopes to get the nod from the Bank of Estonia within the first quarter of 1999.

According to Agu Lauri, head of the foreign division at Hansapank, 33 million litas ($ 8.25 million), which the bank plans to invest in Lithuania initially, is enough to meet the requirements set for credit institutions in Lithuania.

Lithuanian laws require that foreign banks launching their operations on the Lithuanian market must have a share capital of at least 23 million litas ($ 5.75 million).

Hansapank has been working on the project of opening its activities in Lithuania for years, and after Swedbank's investment this became possible.

Swedbank saw Hansapank as a starting point in the Baltics, when it bought half of Hansapank's share capital last autumn. "Swedbank's investment in Hansapank has certainly influenced our expansion plans. We kept our capital in reserves but now we have enough free capital," said Lauri.

According to Lauri there are several foreign banks in Lithuania and most of those bank's share capital belongs to foreigners. The local banks are mostly state owned.

Lauri said he believes that Hansapank's present clients and companies based on foreign capital would be the bank's primary clients and the local people would follow.