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The majority of data and analysis at Financial Services Briefing is available only to subscribers. Each week, a small share of content from the service is made available to non-subscribers.

First came the Swedes. Then the Brits. The Americans also seem keen, as do the French and Germans. When it comes to imposing a special tax on banks, a cursory glance at the countries that favour the levies suggests that the world is united. However, there are some noteworthy dissenters and even among those who agree on the principle of bank taxes there are disagreements over details.

Read more at Financial Services Briefing: “Entente fiscale” (June 24th)

The majority of data and analysis at Financial Services Briefing is available only to subscribers. Each week, a small share of content from the service is made available to non-subscribers.

As the largest Nordic banks reported their 2009 results, a clear pattern emerged: lenders’ fortunes depended on how far they strayed from home.

Swedish rivals Swedbank and SEB maintain significant operations in the Baltics, a region that bore the full brunt of the global financial crisis. A surge in problem loans in these countries weighed on banks’ results, with Swedbank the hardest hit. Other Nordic lenders, namely Norway’s DnB NOR and Sweden’s Handelsbanken, derive larger shares of business from their home markets and, as a result, suffered less from the downturn than their more adventurous counterparts.

Unique among large banks in the region, Danske Bank reported an increase in net profit in 2009. However, the bank insisted that its result “cannot be considered satisfactory” given the drag that an ill-advised takeover of banks in recession-wracked Ireland has had on its earnings.

Read more at Financial Services Briefing: “Northern exposure” (February 26th)

SEB Q309

The Baltics are in bad shape. Ask any Swedish banker.

The foreign banks with the greatest exposure to the troubled region, Swedbank and SEB, reported third-quarter results this week. SEB, reporting today, is in relatively better shape, eking out a small profit in its latest quarter. Nevertheless, its losses on loans in the Baltics are striking (the chart is taken from a company presentation).

Swedbank, reporting yesterday, recorded a third consecutive quarterly loss thanks to large impairment losses on loans. In addition to the Baltics, Swedbank is suffering from heavy losses in Ukraine [subscription required].

With the threat of devaluation and an aggressive mortgage modification plan looming in Latvia, it looks to be a long winter for Swedish lenders.

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