SWEDEN - Svenska Handelsbanken says its pension surplus is set to boost shareholder equity by around one billion crowns (107.6 million euros).

“At the end of the first six months of the year, Handelsbanken's pension foundation and pension fund had assets of 15.3 billion crowns,” the bank said in its half-yearly earnings statement. “The total pension commitments amounted to 12.6 billion crown. Thus the surplus was 2.7 billion crowns.”

It said that under new IAS19 accounting standards, that come in from 2004 the bank's pension foundation and pension fund will be consolidated on the balance sheet.

“Assuming unchanged share prices at current levels, this is expected to increase shareholders' equity by some one billion crowns,” the bank said.

Meanwhile, Handelsbanken Asset Management posted a decline in first-half operating profit at 208 million crowns, down a 16% on 249 million crowns a year before. Employee numbers at the division fell 11% to 305 in the first six months. Assets under management at the arm rose to 229 billion crowns from 221 billion crowns.

Handelsbanken Pension and Insurance swung to an operating profit of 52 million crowns, from a loss of 81 million crowns a year before.

The bank’s overall operating profit in the first half rose by 11% to 5.9 billion crowns.