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Handelsbanken H1 profits jump 29%

Stockholm-based Svenska Handelsbanken saw operating profit rise by 29% to SEK9.1 billion and earnings per share increase by 47% to SEK11.29 during the first-half of the year.

The Swedish group also experienced an increase in expenses of 22% to SEK6,582 million. The group claimed the predominant reason for the rise in both income and expenditure was down to the inclusion of acquired insurance outfit SPP’s in Handelsbanken’s consolidated accounts from January 1, 2006.

Return on shareholders’ equity increased to 23.3%, while the cost/income ratio improved to 42.3%. Earnings per share were SEK 11.29 and as a 12-month moving total SEK20.58.

The pensions & insurance business area contributed SEK1,694 million to the bank’s profits and the administration result in SPP was positive during the second quarter. Profits after tax were SEK7.3 billion, an increase of 43%.

In the second quarter, the bank continued its expansion into foreign markets, opening branches in Slough and Sheffield in Britain; in Hillerod and Koge outside Copenhagen, Denmark; in Tallinn, Estonia and also in Gdansk, Poland.

Over the past 15 years the bank has been expanding into other Nordic countries and since 2000 also into Britain. As of March 31, 2006 Handelsbanken had 40 branches in Norway, 36 in Finland, 35 in Denmark and 20 in Britain. In addition there are units in 13 other countries.