Sweden’s Swedbank has strengthened its Nordic shipping reach through a strategic partnership in Norway with Sparebank 1 SR-Bank.

The maritime specialists want to build their ocean industries business together, including boosting financing of environmentally friendly vessels.

The two sides said that the partnership is built on a shared commitment to sustainable growth to enable improved services for corporate clients in Sweden and Norway.

Part of the deal is the transfer of a portfolio worth NOK 5.6bn ($562m) by Swedbank to SpareBank.

This consists of shipping, renewables and property loans.

A Swedbank spokesman told TradeWinds less than a third of the amount is shipping and offshore related.

The Swedish lender will also divest its high yield and equity capital market operations in Norway to SpareBank 1 Markets, in which SpareBank 1 SR-Bank is a shareholder.

“Our strategic partnership with SpareBank 1 SR-Bank is based on a shared commitment for sustainable growth,” said Swedbank chief executive Jens Henriksson.

“Swedbank’s Norwegian branch will be leaner and more focused. The partnership and reorientation are in line with our strategic direction and will increase both customer value and return on equity," he added.

Trade financing and larger customers

Swedbank will now start offering trade finance services to SpareBank’s clients.

And together the partners will handle major corporate customers in the Norwegian market through cooperation and syndication within defined industries.

Loan syndications will enable SpareBank to acquire larger customers and will improve Swedbank’s ability to grow in a profitable way, the companies said.

“The partnership increases our market shares in Oslo and Viken and makes us a strong participant in the corporate market. It will also mean that we can take on larger exposures, which will provide good conditions for further growth,” says Benedicte Schilbred Fasmer, SpareBank CEO.

“Our goal is to finance and facilitate NOK 50bn for sustainable activities by the end of 2030,” she added.

“This obliges us to be a driving force in the transition to a more sustainable society. Together with our customers, we can accelerate the green transition and achieve more than we could on our own as a group,” the CEO concluded.

Employees of Swedbank with relevant experience may be offered a chance to join SpareBank.

More competitive

The Swedbank spokesman told TradeWinds: “The discussions were initiated a while ago.”

“We are already active in both these areas and a point of the cooperation with Sparebank is to become more competitive in both areas and grow our exposure,” he added.

Swedbank does not disclose details of its shipping book.

But the spokesman said: “We work with customers in a number of shipping segments and we target clients that have a Nordic link in their business. The clients we work with must obviously have a strategy that fits with our position statement on climate change.”