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How Handelsbanken reclaimed its status as the post-crisis ideal

International diversification counts for little in a pandemic, so shares in Sweden’s Handelsbanken have done better than most other lenders in Europe – but its loan book faces a stern test.


If any European lender has had a good 2020 so far, it’s Handelsbanken.

Sweden’s second biggest bank was the ideal of a more cautious, consistent and focused business model after the 2008 and eurozone crises. Now, it’s back in vogue, as investors are again favouring simpler European lenders over more complex, global firms.

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Handelsbanken is the continent’s highest valued bank stock by price-to-book, according to Berenberg. By mid-June, its shares had performed better in 2020 than any other bank stock in Europe except Deutsche Bank and UBI Banca, neither of which have much cause to boast.

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