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Saxo Bank welcomes Geely Holding Group and Sampo plc as strategic investors and announces new chairman and board members

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Saxo Bank welcomes Geely Holding Group and Sampo plc as strategic investors and announces new chairman and board members

Saxo Bank, the leading fintech specialist provider of multi-asset trading and investing, today announced that all the necessary regulatory approvals have been received to enable China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. Ltd (Geely Holding Group) and Sampo plc of Finland (Sampo) to acquire shares in Saxo Bank A/S. 

Following the approval and reflecting the new ownership structure of Saxo Bank, Daniel Donghui Li has been elected chairman and new members of the board have been appointed at an extraordinary general meeting that marked the successful closing of the transactions. 

In October 2017, shareholders of the Saxo Bank Group (“Saxo”) announced an offer received from Geely Financials Denmark A/S, a subsidiary of Geely Holding Group, to acquire a majority stake in Saxo Bank. At the same time, Sampo, a leading Nordic financial services group, made an offer to acquire a 19.9 percent interest in the Bank.

The closing of the transactions means that TPG Capital, Lars Seier Christensen and SinarMas sell their interests in Saxo Bank amounting to 29.26 percent, 25.71 percent and 9.9 percent respectively. Some minority shareholders have also agreed to sell their shares to Geely Holding Group and Sampo resulting in stakes of 52 percent and 19.9 percent respectively. CEO and Founder Kim Fournais’ share of 25.71 percent of the Bank remains unchanged.

The transaction values Saxo Bank at EUR 1.325 bn.

In proportion to Saxo Bank’s international presence the process of closing the transactions has been subject to regulatory approvals from 11 different financial and competition authorities with Geely Holding Group and Sampo receiving approval to buy the shares from the Danish FSA earlier this year.

At an extraordinary general meeting on 13 September 2018, the shareholders of Saxo Bank agreed to change the composition of the Board of Directors with Daniel Donghui Li, Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President of Geely Holding Group becoming the Chairman of Saxo Bank and Henrik Normann Vice-chairman. After the general meeting, Saxo Bank’s board consists of:

  • Daniel Donghui Li, Chairman
  • Henrik Normann, Vice-chairman
  • Ian Zhang, Board Member
  • PrebenDamgaard, Board Member
  • Patrick Lapveteläinen, Board Member

CEO and Founder, Kim Fournais, said:

“Today, we proudly welcome Geely and Sampo as shareholders. It is an important milestone for Saxo Bank and for me personally as CEO, founder and shareholder. The track-records of both Geely and Sampo are unparalleled and I am confident that the new ownership structure will provide us with the right foundation to deliver long term growth. With Geely as a shareholder, we will benefit from a strong position in growth markets in the Asia region, with Greater China at its core.  At the same time Sampo, as the leading blue-chip investor in the Nordic financial industry, further strengthens our Nordic foundation.”

Daniel Donghui Li, Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President of Geely Holding Group and Chairman of the board at Saxo Bank, said:

“We believe that Saxo Bank’s technologies and products can be effectively expanded across Asia, where we hope to build on its strong reputation in global financial and regulatory technology. This is expected to generate synergies from the development of financial services in the Chinese market.”

Kari Stadigh, Chief Executive Officer and President, Sampo Group, added:

“Saxo Bank is one of the most interesting companies in the Nordic fintech sector. Saxo Bank’s unique and highly advanced trading and investment platforms are, in our view, the best in the market and have great potential globally. We are excited to be part of this success story.”

In due course, Saxo Bank and its new shareholders will announce potential new areas of cooperation and partnerships to enable the business to capitalize fully on its financial technology capabilities around the world.

Banking

A quarter of banking customers noted an improvement in customer service over lockdown, research shows

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A quarter of banking customers noted an improvement in customer service over lockdown, research shows 1

SAS research reveals that banks offered an improved customer experience during lockdown

A quarter (27%) of banking customers noted an improvement in their customer experience over lockdown, according to research conducted by SAS, the leader in analytics.

This represents some good news for banks in an extremely challenging time, with 59% of customers also saying they’d pay more to buy or use products and services from any company that provided them with a good customer experience over lockdown.

The improvement in customer experience also coincides with a rise in the number of digital customers. Since the pandemic started, the number of banking customers using a digital service or app has grown by 11%, adding to an existing 58% who were already digital customers. Over half (53%) of new users plan to continue using these digital services permanently moving forward.

Brian Holden, Director, Financial Services at SAS UK & Ireland, said:

“It’s notable that in times of need customers value being able to communicate with their bank and place an even higher value on good customer service. A rise in the number of digital customers means banks can now reach a wider audience online, leveraging AI and analytics to offer a more personalised experience.

“There is work to be done, though. Even greater personalisation is needed if banks are to win over the 12% of customers who felt banking services deteriorated over lockdown. And this personalisation will need to get right down to a segment of one to properly reflect the unique circumstances some individuals now find themselves in due to the pandemic.”

While the number of digital users grew over lockdown, there is still a quarter (24%) of the banking customer base that have chosen not to make the switch to digital services.

Meanwhile, failure to offer a consistently satisfactory customer experience could prove costly for banks, with a third (33%) of customers claiming that they would ditch a company after just one poor experience. This number jumps to 90% for between one and five poor examples of customer service, so this just underlines how much retail banks can win or lose in these difficult times.

For more insight into how other industries across EMEA performed during lockdown, download the full report: Experience 2030: Has COVID-19 created a new kind of customer? 

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Banking

Swedish Bank Stress Tests in Line with Recent Rating Actions

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Swedish Bank Stress Tests in Line with Recent Rating Actions 2

The Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority’s (FSA) latest stress test results show major Swedish banks’ robust ability to absorb credit losses. The results support Fitch Ratings’ view that short-term risks have abated in recent months, and are in line with Fitch’s assessment of major Swedish banks’ capitalisation at ‘aa-‘, which was a factor when Fitch removed the ratings of Handelsbanken, Nordea (not covered by the FSA’s stress test) and SEB from Rating Watch Negative in September.

The FSA estimated about SEK130 billion of credit losses over 2020-2022 for the three largest banks (Swedbank, Handelsbanken and SEB) under its stress test. This represents about 220bp of their loans, or about 70bp annually. However, the banks’ pre-impairment profitability in the stress test could absorb credit losses of up to about 110bp of loans annually. Fitch’s baseline expectation is for credit losses below 20bp of loans in 2020 and 8bp-12bp in 2021.

Capital remained strong under the stress test. The average common equity Tier 1 (CET1) ratio fell by only 2.8pp (1.9pp if banks did not pay dividends) from 17.6% at end-June 2020. The capital decline was not driven by credit losses, which could be absorbed by pre-impairment profitability, but by risk-weighted asset inflation.

The three banks’ 3Q20 results showed that capital has been resilient despite the coronavirus crisis. The banks had a CET1 capital surplus over regulatory minimums, including buffers, of almost SEK100 billion (excluding about SEK33 billion earmarked for dividends). SEB had a CET1 ratio of 19.4% at end-September, Handelsbanken’s was 17.8% and Swedbank’s 16.8%.

The SEK130 billion credit losses under the latest stress test are lower than under the FSA’s spring 2020 stress test (SEK145 billion), which also covered a shorter period of two years. However, they are still larger than the actual losses incurred by the three banks during the 2008-2010 crisis. This is despite tightened underwriting standards by the three banks in recent years, including, in the case of SEB and Swedbank, in the Baltics, the source of most of their loan impairment charges in the previous crisis.

In its baseline economic forecasts, the FSA assumes a harsher shock to Sweden’s GDP in 2020 and 2021 (-6.9% and 1%, respectively) than Fitch’s baseline (-4% and 3.4%), although it assumes a similar recovery by end-2022. It also assumes real estate price corrections, which appears particularly conservative in light of a 11% housing property price increase over January to November 2020.

The ratings of Handelsbanken (AA), Nordea (AA-) and SEB (AA-) are on Negative Outlook due to medium-term risks to our baseline scenario. The rating of Swedbank (A+) is on Stable Outlook, reflecting significant headroom at the current rating level following a one-notch downgrade in April due to shortcomings in anti-money laundering risk controls.

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Banking

Future success for banks will be driven by balancing physical and digital services

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Future success for banks will be driven by balancing physical and digital services 3

Digital acceleration due to COVID-19 has not eliminated the need for bank branches

Faster service (23%), smaller queues (26%) and longer opening hours (31%) are among customers’ biggest asks of their bank branch, new research from Diebold Nixdorf today reveals. But with 41% consumers saying they would be comfortable to engage with all banking services via an app, it is vital that banks respond to the full spectrum of customer needs – balancing and evolving their offerings on multiple fronts.

A third (35%) of customers say they will always want access to physical, in-branch banking services in some capacity and one in ten (10%) consumers will never bank predominantly online in the future. This demonstrates that there remains an important role for the services a branch provides. This role, however, continues to shift away from purely transactional banking:

  • A quarter (26%) value face-to-face advice when it comes to their banking needs

  • One in five (18%) seek advice on different products

  • 17% want to speak to the staff or other customers.

Matt Phillips, Diebold Nixdorf vice president, head of financial services UK & Ireland, said: “The majority of banks have spent the last decade focusing on their digital strategies and investing in improving – or establishing – their online customer experience. However, the data shows that there is still an essential role for physical branches. Banks now increasingly face the challenge of continuing to provide customers with access to a range of physical and as well as digital services, giving them the flexibility to choose the best service for them at any given moment in time.”

When looking beyond the impact of COVID-19, planned branch visits by customers are expected to rebound to 28%, following a dip to 11% during lockdown. And when asked about the new services they’d like to see inside their bank, sixteen percent of respondents said more self-service machines would improve their in-branch experience.

Matt Phillips continues: “In a world that is fast evolving and where the future is digital, there’s no doubt that high street banks must, and are, responding to the needs of highly digital customers. But not every customer requirement is digital. There is still a strong need for physical bank branches and the interaction and services they offer, and striking this balance between physical and digital is where the industry must come together to provide solutions. For example, building a strong, leave-behind strategy is something we’re seeing across the board when banks have to close branches, ensuring customers have access to self-service machines to complete all their transactional needs.”

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