Rumours spread over Nordea HQ move

One of Nordea Bank’s biggest shareholders could be considering pushing the bank to move its headquarters to Helsinki from Stockholm.

The rumours have gathered pace since last week’s sale of 255 million shares worth some Sek19bn by the Swedish government.

At the time the coordinators and bookrunners for the deal – Nomura, Morgan Stanley SEB Enskilda and Danske Bank did not divulge the buyers.

However, since then it has been suggested that Finland’s Sampo Group acquired another 0.8% stake in Nordea, taking its total to 21.3%.

The board of Sampo Group, the Nordic region’s biggest property and casualty insurer, including If P&C Insurance, Mandatum Life and Sampo plc, is chaired by Björn Wahlroos. He is set to be elevated from vice chairman to chairman of Nordea’s board at the annual general meeting scheduled for 24 March.

Wahlroos is also the biggest individual shareholder in Sampo Group, with 2.09% of shares – behind only the Finnish government’s Solidium vehicle (14.12%), Varma Mutual Pension Insurance Company (8.50%), and Ilmarinen Mutual Pension Insurance Company (2.47%). The figures were published by Sampo Group as of 31 January 2011, excluding owners of nominee registered shares and foreign owners.

Suggestions of a move could gather pace if lower corporate tax rates come into effect after Finland’s parliamentary elections on 17 April. The country is also considered more banker friendly; the Swedish government last year failed to gather support from other shareholders in Nordea to block payment of short term bonuses and exclude managers from long term incentive programmes.

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