Danske set for IT hiring spree

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IT professionals watch out - Danske Bank is undertaking an "extraordinarily large" technology investment programme this year and next, with the bank feeling confident enough to catch up after the postponement of many projects.

The initiative was revealed despite Danske this week posting first quarter figures showing a more than halving in net profits, to DKr769m, from DKr1.55bn at the same point in 2009, with pre-tax profit coming in at DKr1.4bn, against DKr2.3bn.

The bank described the decline as the result of continuing "difficult" macroeconomic conditions that had led to a 30% drop in income, although the fact net trading income had been "extraordinarily high" in Q1 2009 also played a part in depressing comparisons.

The tough conditions meant it had been forced to keep a tight grip on expenses, which were down 7%, in part because of the postponements.

But the new IT programme was "intended to ensure the launch of a number of new products and services and the innovative use of digital technology", it added.

The number of full-time employees was 6% lower than at the end of the first quarter of 2009, it also said.

Danske's results are the last major Q1 figures for the region, and follow Nordea, Swedbank, SEB and Handelsbanken.

In between these, Norwegian bank DnB at the end of last week posted static Q1 profit of NOK2.9bn.

Employee numbers were down to 13,525, against 14,314 at the end of the first quarter last year.

And, like Danske, DnB showed it had kept a tight rein of expenses, taking NOK233m of ordinary operating expenses out of the business compared with Q1 2009.

The second biggest chunk of this was performance-related pay, down NOK143m, it added, with an ongoing streamlining of its branch network, production processes and reduced IT purchasing also contributing.

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