Year-end report 2013 Page 2 of 58
There were a number of signs in 2013 that the global economy is slowly recovering, though much points to the fact that the recovery is fragile. In our home markets, economic conditions remained stable. Economic development and credit demand will be affected as central banks gradually phase out their stimulus measures. In parts of Europe, high debt levels pose structural challenges. In Sweden, a housing shortage in major cities continues to push debt levels higher, impeding households and potential growth.
Continued stable result
Last year was financially successful for us. Swedbank posted a profit for continuing operations of SEK 15.2bn for the full year, compared with SEK 15.3bn in 2012. Fourth quarter profit was weighed down slightly by write-offs in Ektornet, tax expenses and redeployment provisions. Large Corporates & Institutions reported strong numbers and the most recent Greenwich survey of large companies shows that the business
offering is appreciated by prioritised customers in both Sweden and Norway. Baltic Banking also performed well, with increasing customer activity. This indicates that our long-term engagement in the Baltic countries is producing results and is appreciated. Latvia introduced the euro at the start of this year. This improves opportunities for future business. Lithuania also appears to be following the two other Baltic countries into the EMU. We are also pleased to see that we have strengthened our market position in Swedish mortgages. Stress tests by the Riksbank and the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority show that Swedbank is Sweden's strongest bank financially with the lowest overall risks.
s low risk level contributed to a further improvement in our relative costs for capital market funding during the year. Together with our focus on cost efficiency, this provides us with the room to invest, which is needed if we are to remain a modern and attractive bank in the future.
A bank in your pocket
During the year, our customers became more active in our digital channels. Close to four hundred thousand registered for the Mobile Bank and now have an easy-to-use bank branch in their pocket. We have specially designed Swedbank apps for companies and younger customers. We have continued to improve the digital platforms with smart new functions. For example, customers can now
in the Mobile Bank and put away the old security token thanks to Mobile Bank ID. 2013 was also the year when the Swedish people really began
payments using their mobile phones. We are seeing customer preferences change in other parts of our business as well. One obvious example is how the number of card purchases continues to rise on an annual basis at the same time that the number of ATM withdrawals and the total withdrawn amounts are declining. Our deposit and lending volumes have risen. Loan volumes saw the highest increase in SEK on a quarterly basis since I joined Swedbank. We saw our market position for Swedish mortgages strengthen without increasing our risk taking, while business lending volumes also rose during the quarter.
Increased availability and service
We are now devoting a larger portion of resources to improving the availability of advisory services and customer meetings. Already in 2013, we hired more advisors in Sweden. Resources tied to centralised staff functions are being reduced. The changes are intended to help expand business with our customers, as part of this, we are working actively with all forms of information and customer feedback.
Capital and dividend
We acknowledge the regulatory work in Sweden and the EU to reduce the risk of another financial crisis. It is important, however, that the new requirements strike a balance, so that they do not have any undesirable effects. If the Swedish requirements are too stringent, there is a risk they could slow the econom
s recovery and impede the creation of new jobs and housing. We want to be a stable, secure bank at the same time that we want to help to finance new housing and business investment. Our Common Equity Tier 1 ratio increased during the year to 18.3 per cent (15.4), according to Basel 3, after deducting the anticipated dividend. We are now awaiting a decision on future capital requirements, so that we can then set a new capital target. Based on indicated regulatory changes, our capital target will be higher than we previously assumed. In line with the dividend policy,
Board of Directors is proposing that the Annual General Meeting resolve to pay the shareholders a dividend of SEK 10.10 (9.90) per share for 2013. The dividend policy remains unchanged.
With economic uncertainty and persistent structural problems in parts of the world, we are humble in our expectations and are prepared for an environment with low interest rates and weak credit demand. Our total expenses will therefore be kept at the same level in 2014 as in 2013 and we will continue to focus on profitability and improved efficiency. Michael Wolf President and CEO