HELSINKI (Reuters) - A merger between Sweden’s Nordea (NDA.ST) and Dutch state-owned lender ABN Amro (ABNd.AS) would make “a pretty fine bank,” and early talks may continue after a March 2017 election in the Netherlands, Nordea chairman Bjorn Wahlroos said on Saturday.
In an interview with Finnish public broadcaster YLE, Wahlroos confirmed he had recently discussed a possible merger with representatives from the Dutch finance ministry and the Netherlands Financial Investments (NLFI), the state agency that holds a majority of ABN shares.
“It was a very preliminary contact ... at the moment it looks like (talks) will not go forward until the Dutch parliamentary election,” Wahlroos said, referring to a March 2017 general election.
“I believe it is quite clear that due to the elections, there is not much enthusiasm right now for a larger project in the government level,” he added.
Following local media reports on Nordea’s approach earlier this month, ABN and the Dutch government said they were not looking for a buyer.
Wahlroos, who is also chairman at financial holding company Sampo SAMAS.HE and paper maker UPM-Kymmene UPM1V.HE, said Nordea was keen to expand its operations after investing more than one billion euros in information technology infrastructure.
He added that ABN would “fit together well” with Nordea, the Nordic region’s largest bank.
“The Netherlands is a very Scandinavian-type of country in many ways, open, liberal, market-oriented... (the combined bank) would be a pretty fine bank.”
Wahlroos said he had also suggested to the Dutch that the combined company’s headquarters could move from Sweden to the Netherlands.
Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl; Editing by Helen Popper