Winners and losers in Nordic jobs maelstrom

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Which Nordic banks have suffered the most job cuts this year has become much clearer following Q3 results for Danske Bank, Nordea, Handelsbanken and DnB Nor.

Last month, Swedbank and SEB revealed they had decreased headcounts by 1,718 and 1,500 respectively since January.

Latest figures from Danske show it has suffered a 5% reduction in headcount, or 1,367 full-time staff, since the beginning of the year, as it posted a sharp reduction in net profits, to DKr1.3bn over the nine months, against DKr6.9bn in the same period last year.

For the third quarter, net profits fell to DKr583m, compared with DKr1.1bn last year.

However, one glimmer of hope was that its total income, of DKr45.9bn, was the highest for a nine-month period in the group's history, fuelled primarily by "exceptionally" high income levels from the Danske Markets division, said the bank.

Nordea, by comparison, waved goodbye to 980 staff in the first nine months of the year, a decrease of 3% and more than the 2% it said it had intended to lose.

It reported a 4% reduction in net profits, to €626m, for Q3 and an 8% reduction, to €1.9bn, for the nine months.

Intriguingly, while staff costs for Q3 were down compared with Q2, year-on-year they were up 6%, said Nordea, a reflection of increased salaries and pension costs as well as "higher performance-related salaries" and "higher allocations for profit-sharing schemes".

No final decisions had yet been made on variable performance-related salaries for 2009, it stressed, with €70m being set aside for Q3, compared with €90m in Q2.

At DnB Nor a total of 579 positions had been lost this year so far, as the number of full-time positions fell from 14,103 to 13,524.

It reported net profits of NOK5.3bn for the nine months, against NOK7.3bn, and one billion Kroner down for Q3, to NOK1.8bn.

But it also hinted there could yet be more streamlining to come, particularly of back-room functions, with implementation of its "One Group" concept "continuing at full pace", with the aim of effecting NOK2bn annual savings by 2012.

Finally, at Handelsbanken, some 300 employees had been lost since the start of the year, though its acquisition of Lokalbanken meant the overall reduction was barely over 100, with hiring of temporary staff actually increasing employee numbers to 10,912, from 10,881, over the summer.

It in fact reported a 2% increase in net profits in the nine months to September, from SEK7.6bn to SEK7.7bn, though for Q3 a 13% year-on-year decline, from profits of SEK2.8bn to SEK2.4bn.

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