Swedbank CEO Michael Wolf

Swedbank with Heavy Losses

Swedish banking group Swedbank has presented losses higher than expected in the fourth quarter of 2009. According to the figures that were presented in Stockholm on Tuesday, Swedbank made a 224 million dollar operating loss in the quarter, weighed down by charges that mostly related to real estate. But the bank’s CEO Michael Wolf said a brighter global economy might allow Swedbank to swing to a profit this year despite the losses in the crisis-hit Baltic region.

Swedbank, which counts its main markets as Sweden and the hard-hit economies of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, has paid a heavy price for lending to the Baltic region during years of red-hot growth. A double-digit recession in the Baltics has led to huge losses for several Nordic lenders this year, but many say there are signs they may have seen the worst of the fallout. Analysts in a Reuters poll have forecast a profit of 93 million dollars for the bank in 2010.

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