JAN LIDÉN S ADDRESS TO FÖRENINGSSPARBANKEN S ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING IN STOCKHOLM APRIL 21, 2005

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1 JAN LIDÉN S ADDRESS TO FÖRENINGSSPARBANKEN S ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING IN STOCKHOLM APRIL 21, 2005 Dear shareholders, ladies and gentlemen, FöreningsSparbanken is currently the most profitable bank in the Nordic region. For a business to be profitable, it has to have satisfied customers. For the last two consecutive years we have been named Commercial Bank of the Year by Sweden's largest companies. And, for the third consecutive year, we were named the best bank by Sweden's entrepreneurs. We were also named Competence Company of the Year. And in the latest Financial Barometer survey, which ranks business students favorite employers, we came in a respectable fifth, ahead of our competitors and many other leading companies. In the same survey three years earlier, we ranked 26 th. The bank's success in 2004 is the result of several factors. To begin with, I would stress all the fine efforts our employees in all countries make on a daily basis. We know for a fact that it is how customers react to their contacts with the bank directly through our branches, online or by telephone - that determine whether or not they are satisfied. FöreningsSparbanken today has around 230,000 business customers in Sweden. This means that about half of all Swedish companies use our bank. We are now a leading commercial bank for companies both small and large. In addition, we have over 4 million private clients in Sweden. Together with the independent savings banks and partly owned banks, our geographic market coverage in Sweden gives us a huge advantage over the competition. If we add our telephone and Internet services, the bank is easily accessible for customers. During the year we took important steps to become a leading Nordic-Baltic bank. Through the acquisition of Hansabank, FöreningsSparbanken has four home markets: Sweden, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. In the Baltics, we now have slightly over 6,000 full-time employees. In 2004 Swedish operations accounted for approximately 80 percent of the Group's profit and the Baltics for approximately 18 percent. In the future we expect a larger share of profits to be generated east of the Baltic Sea. The breadth of our customer base requires that we are innovative and flexible. Having established customer relationships is especially important in a market where competition is getting even fiercer than before. I am happy to say that both corporate and private clients were more satisfied with us last year. The positive trend in our Group helped to raise volumes and income. Operating profit rose by 25 percent to nearly SEK 12 billion, compared with slightly over SEK 9.5 billion in The cooperation with the independent savings banks and partly owned banks has played an important role in our positive development during last year. 1

2 Higher volumes in savings and lending helped us to maintain stable net interest income. However, low interest rates and growing competition have affected deposit and lending margins negatively. Net commission income gained 16 percent. The trend was positive in most areas, which means our profit was the result of increased business activity in a number of market segments. Loan losses were cut in half last year, which is certainly positive. However, we must remain prudent and are closely monitoring the quality of our loan portfolios. While business volumes expanded substantially, expenses in our Swedish operations have remained unchanged since 2000, excluding profit-based compensation. The relationship between costs and income, known as the C/I ratio, is a measure of our operational efficiency. Last year the C/I ratio fell from 0.57 to The C/I ratio is also an important operational measure for the bank s various units. Positive development in Sweden and in our new home markets as well as in earnings, profitability and efficiency, enables us to move forward from a position of strength. How will we utilize this position going forward? *** The Board of Directors has laid down a strategic direction for the bank until It is an aggressive strategy based on our core businesses. We have market-leading positions in lending, savings and payments, among other areas. Our aim is to retain and increase our market shares in these areas. It is important to capitalize on the growth potential in our traditional core businesses, both nominally and in terms of market share. It should be noted that mortgage lending continued to rise last year. Spintab s lending to private customers rose by SEK 27 billion, or 10 percent. Spintab consolidated its position as Sweden's leading mortgage lender, with a market share of 31 percent. Finance company lending also rose substantially. Lending by FöreningsSparbanken Finans increased by SEK 3 billion, or 18 percent, to SEK 22 billion. The finance company now has a leading position, especially in financing of heavy equipment for the farming, forestry and contracting sectors, consumer loans and fleet management. FöreningsSparbanken continued to raise its share of new mutual fund contributions. Robur had a 24 percent share for total new contributions, against 20 in FöreningsSparbanken s traditional core businesses are expected to continue to grow in the years ahead. But there are areas that will grow significantly more for example, the pension market and long-term savings. On an annual basis, the pension market generates flows of approximately SEK 100 billion. We anticipate considerable market growth in the years ahead, and in this area FöreningsSparbanken has attractive offerings and increases its market shares. 2

3 Debit and credit cards are another area that is growing quickly. FöreningsSparbanken is Sweden's largest card issuer, with 3 million bank cards issued. Card purchases have increased steadily over a long period and continue to rise quickly. This, we believe, is evidence of the value that card payments offer both the card holder and merchant. In 2004 alone, card purchases rose by 18 percent, for a total of 302 million purchases, or 830,000 a day. FöreningsSparbanken is also the Nordic region s largest card payment processor and one of the largest processors of Visa-transactions in Europe. To further capitalize on the potential in the card market, we announced in February that we are forming a joint company with British-based Barclaycard, the European leader in debit and credit cards. The new company will offer competitive cards and card-based consumer credits and aims to be the market leader in the entire Nordic region. The credit card market in Sweden and Norway is currently estimated at 2-3 million cards. We estimate that there is potential for 10 million cards in the entire Nordic market. The market for consumer credits is currently valuated at approximately SEK 40 billion. The bank s growth strategy also has a geographic dimension. In the Swedish market, the strategy is to strengthen our position in metropolitan regions and other growth areas, at the same time that we maintain our presence in other parts of the country. With our geographic diversity, it is natural that we periodically review our retail operations to ensure that we are keeping pace with our customers and their businesses. Last year more employees, on a relative basis, worked in metropolitan areas and markets with growing business potential than in Strong retail operations are and will remain the foundation of the bank s Swedish operations. During the year extensive improvements were made at most of our local banks. The aim is to increase customer satisfaction and business activity through a more structured, customer-oriented approach. The key is that our customers more so than before perceive that we are treating them in a professional manner. FöreningsSparbanken welcomes all customers. This means that there are many different customer demands to satisfy. Much of our change process is focused on identifying and satisfying the needs of individual customers. We offer simple, efficient solutions for those who have salary accounts with us, pay their bills through our Internet bank and perhaps have our bank card. Private customers who need more comprehensive advice today have access to Private Banking at around 30 locations around the country. Private Banking gives them a channel to the bank s consolidated expertise based on their needs and goals. In corporate banking, we are strengthening our position. Our aim is to be a longterm preferred partner to SMEs and larger companies, the agricultural sector, municipalities, county councils and organizations. The key in these segments, just like in the private segments, is the ongoing differentiation of our offerings, where customer demand is the starting point. In Marievik, in Stockholm, Private Banking is working together with business advisors to offer both business advice and personal financial advice to business leaders. This is a successful example of how we can reach more customer groups, 3

4 provide them with greater value and at the same time create more business for the bank. A similar example is our cooperation with Fastighetsbyrån, currently one of Sweden's leading real estate brokers, which raised its market share for the fourth consecutive year. In 2004 the company brokered some 23,000 residential property sales for a total sales volume of approximately SEK 21 billion. In many places around the country the bank s staff attend open houses for homes and apartments. People who are interested in moving are an attractive customer group for the bank. The cooperation with Fastighetsbyrån is a way for the bank to proactively create contacts and generate new business. FöreningsSparbanken s customers are increasingly using a combination of channels to do their banking business. We believe that they should be able to do their banking just as easily whether they visit a branch, call the telephone bank or go online to the Internet bank. If we look ahead, is important that we become better at integrating the branches, Internet and telephone. The trend in recent years speaks for itself. Approximately two of every three payments in Swedish kronor received by the bank in 2004 were electronic. This is an increase of nearly 10 percentage points in just one year. The number of customers registered with the telephone bank and Internet bank continues to rise. In 2004, 2.2 million telephone bank customers used the selfservice option, an increase of 3 percent compared with In this context I should note that FöreningsSparbanken, according to market researcher ISI Wissing, provides Sweden's most popular customer service. The number of Internet bank customers rose by 13 percent in Today there are 1.7 million, of whom just over 430,000 are customers of the independent savings banks and partly owned banks. Of these customers, 145,000 are corporates. Last year the number of entries in the Internet bank rose by 29 percent to 87 million. This corresponds to 240,000 every day, year round. *** FöreningsSparbanken has had an established presence in the Nordic-Baltic region for years. Together with the growth opportunities in the Swedish market that I mentioned, our greatest potential for further growth lies in our other home markets. After the acquisition of Hansabank, FöreningsSparbanken is the largest bank in the Baltics. Hansabank s development is a successful example of entrepreneurship in a region that has experienced strong economic growth in recent years. In 2004 the Baltic countries reported continued good growth. GDP rose by an average of more than 6 percent. EU ascension gives these countries access to structural funds, at the same time that it increases interest in direct investments from abroad. There are many aspects of their businesses that FöreningsSparbanken and Hansabank share. Broad geographic coverage through strong retail operations and 4

5 effective self-service channels distinguish both banks. Decentralized decisionmaking is another common aspect. In the Baltics, the use of traditional banking services is the low compared with other EU member states. Two examples of areas that grew quickly in 2004 are mortgage loans and consumer loans. In 2004 Hansabank again raised its financial objectives. The goal for operating profit is annual growth of at least 15 percent. Previously the goal was 10 percent. The return on equity objective is to exceed 20 percent. The C/I ratio should not exceed 0.45, which is down from 0.5. Loan losses should not exceed 0.5 percent of lending, compared with the previous objective of 0.6 percent. In Estonia, Hansabank has market-leading positions in deposits, lending, cards and pension savings. Operations in Estonia account for approximately 57 percent of Hansabank s operating profit. Even though the Estonian market is the most mature and consolidated in the region, it is still experiencing high growth in several areas. In Latvia and Lithuania, Hansabank has market leading positions in key segments. Latvia has the highest growth of the Baltic states. Here Hansabank strengthened its positions in 2004, and Latvia now accounts for approximately 24 percent of its operating profit. The Lithuanian banking market is more competitive than the other Baltic states. For example, interest margins are lower, resulting in weaker profitability. The lending market in Lithuania is the least developed among the Baltic states but is distinguished by rapid growth. In relation to its competitors, Hansabank has developed strongly in Lithuania. Today the Lithuanian market accounts for about a fifth of Hansabank s operating profit. We will now be working together with Hansabank s management to identify opportunities to develop for the future. The priorities that Hansabank s management has laid down for 2005 are the basis of our continued efforts. Since FöreningsSparbanken essentially owns 100 percent of Hansabank, there are further opportunities to strengthen the bank s position. Eventually there could be a number of synergies for example, in IT support and other support functions as well as in funding, asset management, purchasing and customer service between our home markets. Further geographic expansion from the Baltics will be carefully considered based on economic and political factors. *** FöreningsSparbanken now commands a position of strength. During the year we took important steps to achieve the objectives the Board had established for the bank s strategic direction. We have continued to improve customer relationships. Our awards and strong profits are proof that the bank is headed in the right direction. An important step to ensure our continued growth and profitability was taken through the acquisition of Hansabank. 5

6 Much is left to be done, and our capabilities and ability to take action will be critical. The bank's management and I confidently and with a strong sense of commitment look forward to continuing the work we have now begun to build our position as a leading Nordic-Baltic bank. I thank you for your time and now give the word back to the Chairman. 6

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