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SEB remains protective of its investment bankers

ANNIKA FALKENGREN

If you work in SEB’s investment banking division, there’s reason to feel relatively smug. While the bank looks to cut costs, reduce headcount and reduce expenses across most business areas, these have all remained flat across its markets division.

SEB’s third quarter results have continued the positive trend of Nordic banks. It reported a 1.8% rise in profits year-on-year, which like Nordea was below analyst expectations, but the results were generally positive.

Like most banks, however, it’s been keeping a firm grip in expenses, in particular staff costs that fell by 4% on the back of headcount reductions. SEB spent SEK110m on redundancy payments in Q3, an increase of SEK79m from the previous quarter.

Year-on-year, employee numbers fell by nearly 1,200 to 16,480, but SEB markets appears sheltered from the cuts. It now employs 2,512 people, a minor increase on the 2,493 people employed at this point in 2011. While staff costs have decreased compared to last year, it’s by a relatively paltry 2% year-on-year.

More disconcertingly, M&A and equity capital markets have performed badly during the quarter, while the underwriting of corporate bonds remains a key priority for SEB. Flow-focusing trading activities remained stable, the bank said.

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