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Baltics roundup: Nordea and DNB to merge operations

Two Nordic financial services giants are to combine their Baltic operations within a new bank.

Nordea and DNB have agreed to create Luminor Bank AS. The merger includes the operations of Nordea Life & Pensions.

Mats Wermelin, CEO of DNB in Sweden, said: “Scale is key in banking today, with larger banks having more efficient use of resources. The new bank will be better equipped to counter increasing competition in the region and capitalise on scale in order to become the main bank for more businesses, customers and partners in the Baltics.”

Nordea has built a strong position within the large corporate segment whereas DNB is active with smaller companies. Together, the banks said they expected to run a larger and more competitive retail business.

Luminor’s CEO is Erkki Raasuke, formerly managing director of the LHV Group in Estonia and a former group CFO of Swedbank.

Nordea and DNB will have equal voting rights over the combined bank, while having different economic ownership levels reflecting the relative equity value of their contribution to the combined bank at the time of closing.

The merger is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Estonian fund takes stake in internet provider

LHV Pension Funds Estonia has bought a stake in Cgates, Lithuania’s second-largest cable and internet service provider.

The pension provider is part of a consortium – led by Livonia Partners and including Ambient Sound Investments – which will acquire a 35% stake in Cgates through a new share issue.

LHV Pension Funds will buy 35% of the share issue, while Livonia Partners will take 51% and Ambient Sounds 14%. The value of the transaction was not disclosed.

The capital injection is intended to support growth of the company and further network and technology upgrades.

Kristo Oidermaa, 
portfolio manager at LHV, said: “LHV Pension Funds follow an active investment strategy, and as a result we have recently been looking more actively at the non-listed investment opportunities in the Baltics. Cgates has proven its ability to grow organically and through acquisitions.”

Oidermaa added: “We believe that there are more opportunities for consolidation in the sector in Lithuania. In that sense, Cgates offers the growth perspective as well as the stability of earnings and business model inherent to the telecoms sector.”

LHV Pension Funds has assets under management of just over €1bn. About 20% of its portfolio is invested in Estonia and a further 15% in Latvia and Lithuania.

Oidermaa said: “The main objective of our fund’s local investments is to help local enterprises grow, while we expect to earn a profit for the clients of our pension funds from this growth.”

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