"Despite the weakening trends in the equities markets during the first quarter of the year, SEB is reporting a stable profit for the Group as a whole. It is pleasing to note that our net interest income has increased and that staff costs have declined by 12 per cent compared with the year-earlier period,' says Lars H Thunell, President and Group Chief Executive.
"Merchant Banking continues to show strong earnings. It is also pleasing that customers-related revenues continue to show a positive trend.'
"The restructuring of BfG is proceeding faster than planned. The re-branding of BfG to SEB in April got a great deal of attention in Germany. Earnings are satisfactory, taking into account the market conditions. The number of e-banking customers in Germany is now up to 158 000, an increase of 120 per cent since the first quarter of 2000.'
"We have taken action to freeze the Group's IT costs. These measures will gain effect gradually during the year which means that IT costs will not continue to rise.'
"Planning efforts prior to the proposed merger with FöreningsSparbanken are intensive and proceeding as planned. As part of the integration efforts, work on developing business plans for the new bank SEB Swedbank's four divisions and other main areas, is under way. The leading star in all integration efforts is to make the changes positive for our various customer groups. Discussions with the Merger Task Force of EU have been initialised.'
Summary of operating result per division and business area
Weaker commissions offset by strong trading
Total income decreased by 7 per cent to SEK 8 193 M (8 770) excluding changes in surplus values. Vilniaus Bankas was not consolidated in the first quarter of 2000. Thus, the decrease for comparable units was 9 per cent. The decline is entirely explained by lower commission income due to stock market related development. Compared with the fourth quarter of 2000 the decrease was limited to 1 per cent.
Net interest income rose by 6 per cent to SEK 3 070 M (2 883). Personal Banking Sweden showed an increase of 16 per cent, whereas Merchant Banking reported a decrease of 11 per cent. Adjusted for Vilniaus Bankas the increase was 2 per cent. The cost for the governmental deposit guarantee decreased by SEK 50 M.
Net commission income decreased by 21 per cent to SEK 2 933 M (3 702). The income varied significantly between different product areas and parts of the Group. Net commission income from payments rose by 4 per cent, while net commission income from securities fell by 22 per cent in comparison with the first quarter of 2000. The decline was especially pronounced within Enskilda Securities. (Full disclosure is provided in note x.)
Net result of financial transactions increased by 15 per cent to SEK 1 035 M (SEK 900 M including an one-off item of SEK 153 M from sales of Brady bonds) due to favourable results from trading in shares, bonds and derivatives (see further note x.)
A change in market interest rates by one percentage point at 31 March 2001 would result in an increase/decrease in the Group's interest-bearing assets and liabilities, inclusive derivatives, by SEK
Other income amounted to SEK 1 155 M (1 285). Of this amount capital gains and one off items accounted for SEK 742 M (793). SEK 503 M was from the sales of shares in OM and EUR 26.6 M (approximately 240) from SEB AG´s divestment of shares in Deutsche Börse.
Cost level stable or actually decreasing for comparable entities
Total costs amounted to SEK 5 462 M (5 385). Adjusted for Vilniaus Bankas, which was not included in the first quarter of 2000, costs decreased by 1 per cent. In local currencies costs decreased by 3 per cent.
Efficiency measures within different business areas have decreased costs by 16 percent compared to the fourth quarter 2001. In the e-banking area, for example, development as from January 2001 is carried out within the different divisions. Taken together the costs for e-banking in the first quarter of 2001 amounted to SEK 357 M (184). The cost in the fourth quarter 2000 was SEK 561 M.
Total costs for IT (including calculated cost for own personnel etc.) amounted to SEK 1.3 billion compared with SEK 1.1 billion in the first quarter and with SEK 1.7 billion in the fourth quarter of 2000. Of this, external IT costs were SEK 635 M (491). The cost in the fourth quarter 2000 was SEK 767 M. The action plan to freeze IT-development projects both with regard to the planned merger and the weaker market conditions will keep the total IT-costs for the whole year 2001 at an unchanged or lower level than during 2000.
Rising staff costs by negotiated salary increases and negative exchange rate effects were offset by efficiency measures mainly in Personal Banking Sweden and Merchant Banking and restructuring in SEB Germany. In addition variable performance-related remuneration decreased by 320 SEK m compared to first quarter 2000. Thereby staff costs, net, decreased by 10 per cent to SEK 2 738 M (3 040). Staff costs, gross, declined by 5 per cent to SEK 3 036 M (3 211). The compensation for the pension costs included in the gross costs increased to SEK 298 M (171). This also includes the pension insurance scheme that has replaced the earlier profit-sharing system.
SEB has an overfunded pension fund to support pension costs. At the end of March 2001, total assets in the pension funds amounted to SEK 19.4 billion (23.2 at year-end 2000), while commitments was SEK 8.3 billion (8.0). Accordingly the surplus value as per 31 March 2001 amounted to SEK 11.1 billion.
Depreciation amounted to SEK 455 M (427), of which goodwill accounted for SEK 178 M (165).
The remaining restructuring reserve for the acquisition of Trygg Hansa in 1997 was SEK 256 M at the beginning of 2001. Of this, SEK 67 M has been utilised during the first quarter.
The acquisition of BfG in January 2000 resulted in a difference between equity and purchase price. The allocation and utilisation of the negative goodwill is described in Appendix 1.
Lending losses and doubtful claims
The Group's lending losses, including changes in the value of assets taken over and write-downs, amounted to SEK 182 M, net (281), of which SEK 100 M, net (310), pertained to SEB Germany. The level of lending losses was 0.08 per cent (0.17).
Doubtful claims, net, that is after provisions of possible lending losses, amounted to SEK 8 596 M
(8 365 by year-end 2000). The increase is explained by exchange rate changes. The volume of pledges taken over declined to SEK 161 M (213).
SEB's total credit exposure amounted to SEK 948 billion, an increase of 22 billion from year-end 2000. The increase can be seen mainly within the corporate sector where the exposure has grown by close to SEK 16 billion, primarily to Swedish manufacturing companies. The lending to the household sector increased by SEK 5 billion of which SEB AG contributed with approximately half and the remaining part is related to mortgage lending within Sweden. Exposure on banks remained stable.
SEB's exposure to the telecommunication industry (operators and manufacturing companies) increased during the first quarter by SEK 2 billion to approximately SEK 14 billion or 1.5 per cent of the credit portfolio. The increase is attributable to short term exposure to existing clients, mainly hedging of foreign exchange exposure. The exposure to the IT sector is stable around SEK 4 billion or 0.4 per cent of the credit portfolio.
SEB´s exposure in emerging markets amounted to SEK 10 483 M, net, a decrease of 9 per cent from year-end 2000 (SEK 11 483 M). The decline was mainly due to decreased exposures in Latin America and Eastern and Central Europe. (See further Appendix 2).
Non-life insurance business
Operating result for non-life insurance operations amounted to SEK 241 M (52). The increase was mainly due to capital gains of SEK 126 M from sales in the bond portfolio.
Total one-off items in the first quarter of 2001 amounted to SEK 869 M (947).
Change in surplus in life insurance operations
The change in surplus in life insurance operations, which is described in detail in Appendix 3, was influenced by the negative financial effects due to the stock market trend and amounted to SEK -251 M (SEK 473 M). See further in Appendix 3.
Capital base and capital adequacy
On the 31 March 2001, the capital base for the financial group of undertakings (excluding the insurance companies) amounted to SEK 52.9 billion (53.3). Core capital was SEK 36.4 billion (36.5), of which SEK 1.8 billion constituted core capital contribution. (For calculation of the capital base see Appendix 4). The risk-weighted assets amounted to SEK 514.7 billion (495.6).
The core capital ratio amounted to 7.08 per cent (7.37 per cent at year-end 2000) and the total capital ratio to 10.27 per cent (10.76). This is in line with the Group's goal to maintain a core capital ratio of at least 7 per cent and a total capital ratio of not less than 10 per cent.
If the first quarter results were to be included in the capital base, the core capital ratio would have been 7.35 per cent and the total capital ratio 10.56 per cent.
In connection with the presentation of the proposed merger of FöreningsSparbanken and SEB all major rating institutes placed SEB´s rating under review for a possible upgrade to FöreningsSparbankens´s confirmed ratings.
2001 Annual General Meeting
At the Annual General Meeting in April all board members were re-elected. The dividend was set at SEK 4.00 per share.
Stockholm, 4 May, 2001
Lars H. Thunell
President and Group Chief Executive
The interim report for January-June 2001 will be published on 23 August 2001. SEB´s reports are available on the Internet (www.seb.se; www.seb.net).
Additional information is available from:
Gunilla Wikman, Head of Group Communications, +46 8 763 81 25
Lotta Treschow, Head of Investor Relations, +46 8 763 95 59
This report has not been reviewed by the auditors of the Bank.