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Sweden s SEB says profit jumps as losses in Baltics fall

STOCKHOLM, Feb 4, 2011 – Sweden\’s third largest bank SEB said Friday its net profit for 2010 was up six-fold thanks to a sharp reduction in credit losses in the Baltic countries.

Last year, SEB\’s net profit was 6.8 billion kronor (1.82 billion euros, $1.05 billion), up from 1.18 billion in 2009.

Net banking income fell 11 percent to 16.0 billion kronor because of a lower credit volume, but profit was up because of a fall in credit losses.

"Our result (in) 2010 reflects that corporate activity gained momentum towards the end of the year and that asset quality clearly improved following the Baltic stabilisation," chief executive Annika Falkengren said.

The deep economic crisis in Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia in late 2008 and 2009, hurt the 2009 earnings of major Swedish banks with activities in the region, especially Swedbank and SEB.

For the fourth quarter, SEB posted a net profit of 3.5 billion kronor with a net banking income up 8.0 percent thanks to increased lending rates in the Scandinavian countries.

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