The material on this site is for financial institutions, professional investors and their professional advisers. It is for information only. Please read our Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy and Cookies before using this site.

All material subject to strictly enforced copyright laws. © 2021 Euromoney, a part of the Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC.

SEB and Swedbank merger: A rude shock to domestic bliss

Within days of the EC unveiling proposed conditions on the merger of SEB and Swedbank, the banks called the marriage off. Had Brussels scuppered a sound deal, or were the fainthearted suitors getting cold feet anyway? The row hinges on the commission’s curious focus on the dominance the new combine would have boasted in its modest domestic market, not the European market as a whole. Critics argue this discriminates against smaller EU states and will curtail cross-border bank mergers.

When the decision was made two months ago by the boards of Sweden's Svenska Enskilda Banken (SEB) and Förenings Sparbanken (Swedbank) to abort their proposed merger, the recriminations were swift. The banks blamed the European Commission for imposing penal conditions that wrecked the logic of the deal, one of Sweden's largest.


But Brussels shrugged off such criticism, pointing out that the suitors failed even to wait for the final conditions to be negotiated. Could it be that the banks had repented of their marriage and were mightily relieved for an excuse to split?


The case raises thorny competition policy issues. Not least is the continued relevance of the notion of monopoly in smallish national markets when the talk among finance ministers is of creating a mighty single market in financial services within the EU by 2005.


At the outset, the boards of the two banks had seen themselves as an ideal fit, combining SEB's strength in Sweden's corporate market with Swedbank's expertise in the small- and medium-sized enterprise and retail sectors. The institutions also believed the merger would give them an excellent foundation for expansion in the Nordic and Baltic regions and provide a strong revenue base for investment in business expansion.




You have reached premium content. Please log in to continue reading.

Read beyond the headlines with Euromoney

For over 50 years, our readers have looked to Euromoney to stay informed about the issues that matter in the international banking and financial markets. Find out more about our different levels of access below.

SUBSCRIBE ONLINE TODAY

Unlimited access to Euromoney.com and Asiamoney.com

Expert comment, long reads and in-depth analysis interviews with senior finance professionals

Access the results of our market-leading annual surveys across core financial services

Access the results of our annual awards, including the world-renowned Awards for Excellence

Your print copy of Euromoney magazine delivered monthly

£73.75 per month

Billed Annually

FREE 7 DAY TRIAL

Unlimited access to Euromoney.com and Asiamoney.com, including our top stories, long reads, expert analysis, and the results of our annual surveys and awards

Sign up to any of our newsletters, curated by our editors

LOGIN NOW

Already a user?

We use cookies to provide a personalized site experience.
By continuing to use & browse the site you agree to our Privacy Policy.
I agree