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DnB's on-off affair leaves Storebrand suitorless

Shareholders of Norwegian insurer Storebrand are disenchanted with DnB after it dumped the company at the altar. Did management lose its nerve as the merger loomed or is there more to it?

       

Den norske Bank has yet again scuppered Norwegian insurance company Storebrand's plans to consolidate. After courting Storebrand for over a year and putting a spanner in the works of a deal with Finnish bancassurer Sampo, DnB has decided at the eleventh hour that it is no longer interested in merging.


The reasons for the collapse in negotiations seem flimsy at best and make DnB look fickle. Storebrand's shareholders have been punished because of DnB CEO Svein Aaser's indecisiveness and lack of mettle. The failure appears to be another setback for the Norwegian government in its long-held aspiration to create a national champion after it sold Christiania Bank og Kreditkasse to Finland's Nordea in 2000. However, the government might yet see its dream realized with a merger between DnB and another national treasure, Union Bank of Norway. But then it's possible that DnB has ruined its chances there too after showing its bad faith with Storebrand.



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