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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Swedbank Plans for Growth

Russian banks available for sale are overpriced, and growing organically has become the cheaper path to development, Swedbank CEO Jan Liden said Thursday.

"When you look at assets here, at the Russian banks 'dressed up' for sale, you realize you would have to pay much more than what their book value is," Liden said on the sidelines of a Swedish-Russian business conference.

Swedbank, the fifth-largest bank by value in the Nordic region, already owns Hansabank, the largest retail bank in the Baltic states, which has a subsidiary in Russia. Hansabank Russia has one cash machine in Moscow.

"The market is growing very rapidly, and this requires further investment in equity, in personnel and operations. We are prepared to do that. It will be a major investment," Liden said.

Swedbank sees banking-sector assets growth at 40 percent to 50 percent in the coming years and views Russia as one of its target markets, though risks remain high. "The biggest risk is not understanding what risks we are taking on," Liden said.

Liden pointed to the requirement to file reports according to both international and Russian accounting standards as a headache foreign bankers face.

"We have more back office people in our operation in Russia than we have in any other country to make sure we comply with all the reporting standards, regulation and taxation," he said.