Nordea and SEB are hiring again!

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Both Nordea and SEB have had their problems throughout 2009, but have emerged from the year in comparatively decent shape. As a result, both firms are planning on upping headcount in 2010.

The fourth quarter reports of both institutions aren't particularly positive - Nordea's net income fell to €448m from €638m for the same period last year, while SEB posted a 93% fall in quarterly earnings to SEK257m. The slumping Baltic region is still weighing heavily on SEB, while Nordea was hit by loan losses of €347m.

But Nordea is planning to invest €240m hiring areas like Swedish corporate banking and Finnish retail banking as it looks to fill the void left by international firms, which have retreated from the Nordic region. It plans a similar investment in 2011.

SEB, meanwhile, is looking to recruit "several hundred" people in the coming years within its merchant banking division. Client relationship managers and investment bankers with a corporate background are being sought by the Swedish bank.

"Because international banks have left, and we're getting more interest from Nordic 'corporates', so we can probably capture a bigger portion of the market there," said SEB's CEO Annika Falkengren.

Both firms have, however, reduced headcount in 2009. SEB cut 1,500 staff last year (509 in Sweden), while Nordea's staff numbers stand at 33,347 - 2% lower than 2008.

SEB has also slashed bonuses this year, largely in response to governmental pressure, with total performance related pay shrinking by 64% to a relatively paltry SEK795m - down from SEK2.1bn in 2008.

But Nordea has refused to bow calls to rein in compensation, and has set aside SEK2.8bn for its 2009 bonus pool.

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