Alecta considers push for board overhaul at Swedbank
Sweden’s biggest pension fund could call for a completely new supervisory board to be appointed for troubled financial services group Swedbank to help deal with recent money-laundering allegations.
The SEK878bn (€84.4bn) Alecta which holds around 5% of Swedbank’s shares, said it was dissatisfied with the action taken by the bank’s existing supervisory board in response to reports that billions of krona were laundered through branches of Swedbank and Danske Bank.
Commenting after Swedbank’s annual general meeting (AGM) yesterday, in which shareholders discussed the bank’s handling of the money-laundering scandal, Alecta’s chief executive Magnus Billing said: “I do not rule out calling an extraordinary meeting in the near future to get a new board in place.”
Just hours before yesterday’s AGM, the Swedbank supervisory board sacked chief executive Birgitte Bonnesen and appointed current chief financial officer Anders Karlsson as acting president and chief executive until a permanent replacement was found.
Meanwhile, fellow pension provider Folksam attempted to reassure its customers that the rapid fall in the bank’s share price would not affect the fund’s stability.
Michael Kjeller, head of asset management and sustainability at Folksam said: “Even in an extreme scenario where the share price fell to zero, we can observe that Folksam Life and Folksam Sak would remain financially stable and not have any need to change their investment policies.”
Swedbank shares are currently trading at around SEK130, having fallen some 26% from around SEK175 at the beginning of this week.
Kjeller added that Folksam – the second-largest shareholder in the bank with a 7% stake – had secured a total return of almost SEK18bn from its investment in Swedbank since it became a major shareholder in 2008. Of this, about SEK7bn was realised profits passed on to its customers.
At the AGM, the bank elected Kerstin Hermansson as a new supervisory board member. Hermansson has previously worked as managing director at the Swedish Securities Dealers’ Association, a trade body.
Alecta’s Billing said: “It is good that the nomination committee continues to work on strengthening the board. The election of Kerstin Hermansson today was a first step.”