July 15, 2020 / 5:52 AM / a month ago

SEB profit tops forecast as trading gains offset loan loss rise

FILE PHOTO: CEO of Swedish banking group SEB Johan Torgeby presents the company's third quarter results during a news conference at the SEB headquaters in Stockholm, Sweden, October 23, 2019. Janerik Henriksson/TT News Agency/via REUTERS

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Swedish bank SEB (SEBa.ST) reported a smaller-than-expected fall in net profit for the second quarter on Wednesday as robust income from its trading arm offset pandemic-related credit loss provisions and a fine for inadequate money laundering controls.

Net profit at Sweden’s top corporate bank fell to 3.5 billion Swedish crowns (£306 million) from a year-ago 4.9 billion, but beat a mean forecast of 3.2 billion in a Refinitiv poll of analysts.

“The consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic influenced the reported financial results, while the underlying business continued to show resilience,” CEO Johan Torgeby said in the report.

The bank said it will not appeal the Swedish FSA’s 1 billion crown fine for failures in SEB’s anti-money laundering controls in the Baltics, adding, however, that it did not agree with parts of the watchdog’s decision.

Loan loss provisions, a figure closely watched in the wake of the steep economic slump due to the pandemic, rose to 2.7 billion crowns from a year-ago 386 million, worse than a forecast of 1.7 billion seen by analysts.

Torgeby said SEB’s previous forecast for credit losses of 6 billion crowns this year, nearly triple the amount reported for 2019, was looking increasingly likely. “With another quarter having passed, we believe that the probability of staying at that level has increased,” he said.

Fee and commission income fell to 4.4 billion crowns from 4.7 billion a year ago, as payment and card fees decreased amid the pandemic, the bank said.

Interest income, which includes income from mortgages, increased 6% to 6.05 billion crowns from 5.7 billion a year ago, despite the negative effects of a rate cut in the United States.

Reporting by Colm Fulton; editing by Niklas Pollard

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