Danske chief says sorry for bank's role in fuelling the debt crisis
Published 22/12/2012 | 05:00
The head of Danske Bank has become one of the first top bankers to apologise for fuelling the financial bubble and subsequent debt crisis.
Copenhagen-based Eivind Kolding has been the chief executive of Denmark's biggest bank since February. He was deputy chairman of the bank in 2005, when it bought National Irish Bank and Northern Bank in this country.
The apology was made in a high-profile opinion piece written by Mr Kolding and published in Denmark's 'Politiken' newspaper.
"In our ambition to meet the market's and investors' expectations about growth and to create short-term profit from ourselves and our customers, we lost a certain amount of focus on our long-term values. We admit that and apologise for it," he said in the article.
The bank was "oblivious to the speed limit" when it grew rapidly in the run up to the financial crash, including by spending €1.4bn to buy banks here in 2005.
National Irish Bank and Northern Bank were rebranded as Danske Bank earlier this month, and all 27 former NIB branches have been shut.
The Irish unit is reeling under the impact of losses on loans advanced to property developers during the boom.
But a much bigger problem for Danske Bank is the 25pc slump in Danish house prices since a peak in 2007.
The housing burst in Denmark is nowhere near as bad as here but loan losses have seen a number of small and regional banks shut down.