Swedbank denies merger talk rumours

Two of Sweden’s largest banks are flirting with Swedbank about a possible merger, according to media reports.

Swedbank denies merger talk rumours

Swedish bank SEB and Swedbank have been in merger talks since last summer, the financial daily Dagens Industri (DI) reports.

According to the newspaper, the process is being pushed along by SEB’s largest shareholder, the Wallenberg family holding company Investor. Swedbank CEO Michael Wolf is also a driving force in trying to bring the two banks together.

At the same time, however, the Nordea bank is also courting Swedbank for a possible merger. According to DI, Björn Wahlroos, CEO of the Sampo insurance conglomerate and Nordea’s largest shareholder, has offered both the finance and enterprise ministries figures about various merger possibilities.

But Swedbank spokesperson Thomas Backteman was quick to refute reports of the bank carrying any discussions about a merger with either SEB or Nordea.

“The information is totally false. There are absolutely no merger talks. I can’t for the life of me figure out where the newspaper got its information from,” he said.

“No discussions are taking place about a merger with anyone.”

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Swedish bank’s IT fault puts customer accounts in the red

A technical problem at Sweden's Swedbank on Thursday night gave customers a nasty surprise, with their account balances inexplicably going negative, payments impossible, and Swish payments no longer working.

Swedish bank's IT fault puts customer accounts in the red

By 11.30pm, more than 2,000 Swedbank customers had reported the fault to the site Downdetector, and the problem was still not solved by 17.00pm on Friday. 

“We have an ongoing IT disruption where certain customers see an incorrect balance on their accounts,” a message on the bank’s app read. “The reason is a planned update to our internal systems which went wrong. We apologise, of course, for that and are working as quickly as possible to fix the problem.” 

The Swish payment service has also been affected, with the service, which is owned collectively by Swedish banks, reporting on its site that there was a “technical disruption at Swedbank and Sparbank which might affect Swish payments from these banks”. 

Some Swedbank customers posted their negative account balances on Twitter, expressing shock at the incorrect figures. 

The disruption comes at the worst possible time for many Swedes. Many people are paid on the 25th of the month, meaning this Friday marks the start of the payday weekend. Many will have also scheduled their bill payments for this Friday. 

Marko Saric from Malmö saw his account balance drop by 1.2 million kronor, going half a million kronor into the red. 

“It’s just totally crazy,” he told SVT. “We were going to go out and shop for the weekend. It’s lovely weather and the kids want to go out, but we can’t use our card. We’ve got no cash. Everything is in the bank.” 

“You’re just completely blocked. Colleagues need to make emergency food parcels for you. It’s just crazy that something like this should happen.” 

In its statement, the bank assured customers that their money was “secure”, and that the bank still had the correct information on what their account balance should be. 

“Customers who feel that they have suffered economic damage as a result of the disruption should contact the bank,” the message said.