Handelsbanken Profit Rises on Loan Growth; Capital Buffers Strengthen

Svenska Handelsbanken AB (SHB-B.SK), one of the Nordic region's largest lenders, Tuesday posted a 2% rise in first-quarter net profit, helped by growing lending volumes and a sharp drop in staff costs.

Net profit at the Stockholm-based bank rose to 4.11 billion Swedish kronor ($468.6 million) in the three months ending Mar. 31 from SEK4.04 billion in the same period a year ago, beating expectations for SEK3.70 billion according to an analyst poll by FactSet.

Household lending increased 7% while corporate lending grew by 3%, it said.

Staff costs fell 20% in the quarter compared to the same period a year ago as the number of employees fell by 251 to 11,584. "Excluding the expanding operations in the U.K. and the Netherlands, the average number of employees decreased by 4% and the ongoing work to improve efficiency continues according to plan," the bank said in a statement.

First-quarter net interest income at the bank nudged 4% higher to SEK7.08 billion from SEK6.80 billion a year earlier, while loan losses widened slightly to SEK196 million from SEK187 million.

The common equity Tier 1 ratio--a key measure of financial strength--was 23.8% at the end of the quarter, up from 22.7% a year earlier.

-Write to Dominic Chopping at dominic.chopping@wsj.com; Twitter: @domchopping @WSJNordics

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 26, 2017 03:09 ET (07:09 GMT)