The big banks’ dividends: 120 billion

200 billion in profit and 120 billion kroner to the owners. The big banks are making money like never before.
Unnecessarily much, thinks the Governor of the Riksbank. Not at all, according to Nordea CEO Frank Vang-Jensen:
– I do not share the view that the banks make excess profits, he says.

When all the big four Swedish banks have released their financial statements (Nordea is also included even though the bank’s headquarters are in Helsinki), TT can add up the profits for the full year 2023 and the total dividends including share buybacks, which also indirectly accrue to the shareholders.

Total profit: SEK 200 billion before tax.

Total dividends to the owners: SEK 120 billion.

This is what some of the bank managers have said about the dividends in recent weeks:

– Our profit goes back to society, said Swedbank CEO Jens Henriksson.

Come back

It is easy to forget who the bank’s owners are, according to Jens Henriksson.

– It’s the savings banks. It’s an insurance company. It is a life insurance company. It is a pension company. It is an occupational pension company. It’s small savers. These are savings bank foundations. It is Swedbank’s ownership foundations, he says.

– They in turn return the money. So our profit goes back to the community, he adds.

Tough out there

SEB’s CEO Johan Torgeby on the billion dividend to the owners:

– They also need to get their income, because it’s tough out there, he says of those who get to share the money.

The bank managers point to the importance of having stable profitable banks, it is important and good for Sweden. But they don’t really have to be that profitable, according to Riksbank Governor Erik Thedéen, who said the other day that he does not consider the large profits the banks have made to be necessary for stability.

– I want to make it clear that from a stability perspective, we have not expressed the fact that it is important that they must radically increase their profits, which has now happened in this interest rate rise, he said.

According to Erik Thedéen, it is up to the banks to defend the greatly increased profitability towards their customers:

– We also now see that a large part of these profits does not go to generate capital, but to dividends. It is up to the banks to answer whether it is reasonable and justified. I’m just saying that from a stability perspective, we haven’t asked for strong profit increases.

Facts: Profit, dividend – bank by bank

Nordea*, full-year profit: SEK 72 billion (+18 percent compared to 2022). Dividend (incl. share buyback): SEK 51 billion.

SEB, profit: SEK 48 billion (+42 percent). Dividend (including buyback): SEK 27 billion.

Swedbank, profit: SEK 44 billion (+63 percent). Dividend: 17 billion.

Handelsbanken, profit: SEK 36 billion (+35 percent). Dividend: 26 billion.

*Nordea’s figures are converted to the euro exchange rate of SEK 11.50.

Source: The banks’ financial statements