Don't expect any major hiring at either Danske or Handelsbanken this year

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In a sign that Danske Bank's headcount will continue to decline, the bank says it intends to keep a lid on expenses throughout 2011, with the belt expected to be even tighter than last year.

The bank, announcing its Q4 and full-year results, revealed expenses declined 10% last year compared with 2009, with its staff costs coming in at DKK24.01bn in 2010 versus DKK24.92bn in 2009.

Stripping out goodwill impairment charges and commission paid for the Danish state guarantee scheme, the actual decline in expenses was 3%, it said.

The only bright spot for the bank's 21,522 staff (compared with 22,093 at the same point in 2009) was that expenses roses 14% in Q4 against the third quarter, with the bank pointing to "seasonal fluctuations", higher marketing costs and the IT investment.

Drilling down, expenses within the banking division were DKK10.87bn in 2010, against DKK12.45bn in 2009, and DKK2.4bn compared with DKK2.7bn in Q4 versus Q3.

The bank's Markets division reported expenses of DKK2.78bn, against DKK2.89bn over the year, but DKK703m in Q4 compared with DKK664m in the third quarter.

It was a similar picture at Danske Capital, where expenses were pretty static year-on-year, at DKK1.04bn against DKK1.01bn, but up to DKK338m versus DKK222m in Q4/Q3.

"In the last quarter of 2010, we introduced Danske Bank CIB, Corporate and Institutional Banking, in our Nordic markets. We are thus strengthening the programme and the services we provide to large Nordic corporates," said chief executive Peter Straarup.

Meanwhile over at Handelsbanken, staff costs for the year were down 5%, to SEK9.5bn compared with SEK10.02bn in 2009, it said in its figures yesterday.

By quarter, expenses in Q4 were down 5% compared with the same quarter last year (at SEK2.47bn against SEK2.59bn) and off 6% against Q3, which was SEK2.33bn.

Variable compensation paid out during the year, it added, fell to SEK234m, compared with SEK483m.

Employee numbers as a whole were static, at 10,850 for 2010 compared with 10,821 in 2009. The group's capital markets division now employs 1,604 people, it added.

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