Our efforts to become a leading North European bank are proceeding according to plan. The result for the first half of 2004 increased by 24 per cent, due to continued focus on our 3 C Programme. Customer satisfaction continues to be a priority. Cross-servicing activities in Sweden have led to increased volumes within mortgage lending, unit-linked and mutual funds. We have also gained many new customers, particularly small and medium-sized companies. Regarding the third C - underlying costs have been stable. The profit growth, however, has led to higher performance-related remuneration.
Our Baltic banks continued to show strong growth both in terms of new customers and volumes. The Baltic & Poland division posted its highest operating result ever in the second quarter. SEB Trygg Liv, too, continued its positive development and reached its best quarterly result to date. Corporate & Institutions once again delivered a result exceeding SEK 1bn, in spite of investments to facilitate further growth. The profitability improvement programme in Germany is starting to yield results. This is necessary in the German economy, which remains weak.
In June, we took two strategic steps to strengthen our North European franchise. We entered into agreements to acquire Codan Life, one of the leading life insurance companies in Denmark, and Eurocard Denmark. When these two entities have been integrated into the SEB Group before year-end, SEB will service 600,000 clients by 800 employees in Denmark.
We have a unique North European platform, which we will continue to build step by step, both organically and through add-on acquisitions. Our ambition is to be more international than the local banks and more local than the international banks.
The full report including tables can be downloaded from the following link.