October 24, 2018 / 6:38 AM / 23 days ago

Handelsbanken to cut 1,600 jobs as third-quarter profit scores narrow beat

FILE PHOTO: A view of the headquarters of the Handelsbanken in Stockholm, Sweden, May 7, 2017. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Sweden’s Handelsbanken (SHBa.ST) said on Wednesday it planned to cut at least 1,600 jobs over the coming four years as it reported third-quarter operating profit slightly above market expectations on the back of lower-than-anticipated loan losses.

Handelsbanken, which employs about 12,500 staff, said in a statement it would be cutting the jobs as part of an efficiency programme as the bank continues to digitalize its operations.

“This is expected to take place at a more or less steady pace over the next four years,” the bank said, adding it would still need to hire people in some of its home markets.

“This is particularly the case in the UK and Netherlands.”

Operating profit in the quarter fell to 5.34 billion Swedish crowns (455.98 million pounds) compared to a year-ago 5.42 billion, beating a mean forecast of 5.26 billion seen in a Reuters poll of analysts.

On Tuesday, Handelsbanken announced that chief executive Anders Bouvin will retire next year.

Bouvin, who has seen Handelsbanken shares fall 16 percent over the past year, has been under pressure over rising costs, credit losses in the bank’s British arm, and allegations of sexual harassment within its capital markets division.

Handelsbanken said income from core lending activities came in at 7.86 billion crowns for the quarter, above the 7.59 billion last year, missing the 7.96 billion seen by analysts.

Loan losses in the quarter amounted to 230 million, lower than the expected 349 million.

Reporting by Johan Ahlander; editing by Niklas Pollard

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