UPDATE 1-Activist fund takes 4.6 pct stake in Swedbank

* Activist investor Cevian has 4.6 pct stake in Swedbank

* Cevian chief says stake long-term, sees potential

* Swedbank shares up 1.9 pct, outperforming index

(Adds Cevian comment, background, detail)

STOCKHOLM, Aug 23 (BestGrowthStock) – Activist fund Cevian Capital
said on Monday it controlled 4.64 percent of Swedbank
(SWEDa.ST: ), making it one of the biggest shareholders in the
Nordic bank hit hardest by the downturn in the Baltic region in
recent years.

Cevian said in a statement its funds owned 3.58 percent of
shares, while a further 1.06 percent of shares are owned by
Cevian’s co-investor, which are controlled by billionaire U.S.
activist investor Carl Icahn.

The stake would make Cevian Swedbank’s third largest owner,
assuming that the top two owners — Folksam Insurance and a
foundation of independent savings banks — had not sold shares.

Swedbank shares, which fell below 16 crowns ($2.90) in March
2009, were up 1.9 percent at 81.85 crowns by 0851 GMT,
outperforming a 0.48 percent fall in the Stockholm blue-chip
index (.OMXS30: ). [ID:nLDE673154]

“We believe there is considerable potential for further
value creation and we have gone in as long-term owners,” Cevian
Managing Partner Christer Gardell told Reuters, adding the
company had been buying Swedbank shares for a long time.

Swedbank, Sweden’s fourth-largest bank by market
capitalisation, posted a 9.5 billion crown operating loss in
2009 as it put aside cash to cover potential losses in the
Baltic where economies nose-dived during the global downturn.

It turned profits in both quarters this year and has seen
new provisions for loan losses related to the Baltics decline.
Gardell said he believed Swedbank’s Baltic problems were mostly
behind it.

In recent years, Sweden-based Cevian has taken stakes in a
number of firms — including insurer Old Mutual (OML.L: ),
builders merchant Wolseley (WOS.L: ) and truck firm Volvo
(VOLVb.ST: ), calling for a shake-up and better value for
investors.

Cevian Capital said it is Europe’s largest dedicated active
ownership fund, managing around $3.5 billion for over 100
institutional and other clients from Europe, North America, and
the Middle East.
(Reporting by Helena Soderpalm; Editing by Sharon Lindores)
($1=5.525 Crown)

UPDATE 1-Activist fund takes 4.6 pct stake in Swedbank