The History of Handelsbanken

Skärmavbild 2015-03-26 kl. 19.17.58

140 years of growth – Handelsbanken 

I found a few pages about the history of Handelsbanken, one of the four major banks in Sweden today, and also the oldest share on the Stockholm exchange (today Nasdaq OMX).

The information brochure ends with a table containing a few historical data showing Handelsbanken’s development through the years from the start back in 1871 up until 2011.

Below the table I have put together the same data for the subsequent three years.


Year No. of employees No. of branches in Sweden No. of branches other than home markets Profit after tax, SEK m Total assets, SEK m
2012 11,192 461 313 14,038 2,383,951
2013 11,503 462 348 14,295 2,484,721
2014 11,692 463 369 15,184 2,816,676

In spring 1871 a new bank was formed

The history of Handelsbanken dates back to the spring of 1871, when a number of prominent companies and individuals in Stockholm’s business community founded Stockholms Handelsbank. This was the result of a personal conflict at Stockholms Enskilda Bank which culminated in April 1871 with the resignation of eight board members who shortly after decided to form a new bank. Handelsbanken’s first board largely comprised previous members of the executive board of Enskilda Banken. Unlike Enskilda Banken, which, being a bank where the owners had joint and several liability, could issue its own bank notes, Handelsbanken became a limited company. The paid-up share capital totalled SEK 1 million. The Bank’s shares were first listed on the Swedish market in 1873, and today it is the oldest share on the Stockholm exchange.

While its main competitors focused on bond transactions and corporate customers outside Stockholm, Stockholms Handelsbank emphasised at the outset that it would pursue “true banking activities” with deposits and loans and that it would focus on the local bank market, that is, the business activities of Sweden’s capital city.

The Bank received its first charter to run a bank from His Majesty the King on 12 May, and on 1 July 1871 the Bank began operations in rented offices located at Kornhalmstorg in Stockholm’s Old Town, which at that time was still the commercial and financial centre of the city. Including the managing director, there were 12 employees. During the Bank’s first year, the whole of its operations, including the premises where it served customers, were based on the first floor of the Schinkel building at Kornhamnstorg 4. A couple of years later, the first branches were opened in Stockholm: 1876 in the Södermalm district (Götgatan 16), 1878 in Norrmalm (Fredsgatan 32) and 1882 in Östermalm (Humlegårdsgatan 24). The Bank opened a branch in Jönköping in 1874 but it was closed in 1895.

The Bank’s first year of operations was very successful and after only a couple of years, Handelsbanken held a strong position among Stockholm banks. The first major test for the new bank came with the difficult crisis years of 1878-79, which severely impacted on large sections of Swedish banking, particularly as a result of uncertainty surrounding railway bonds. The Bank put large amounts of money into a special fund to meet expected loan losses. However, compared with other Stockholm banks, Handelsbanken managed quite well. While its main competitor needed to be rescued with state support, Handelsbanken was able to advance its position. (Source: The History of Handelsbanken)


The history of Handelsbanken

Annual report, 2014

Highlights of annual report


Fact book

Investor relations

Also, see my my earlier post Annual Report: Handelsbanken, 2014.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article. This article is informational and is in my own personal opinion. Always do your own due diligence and contact a financial professional before executing any trades or investments.

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