3 Aug 2020
EUR 60 million
Industries and services
“Savings banks and their customers can gain a lot from cooperating around the goals such as strengthening competitiveness and improving the environment in their regions and communities,” says Erik Hägglöv, head of Sparbanken Nord in Sweden.
Sparbanken Nord is one of the two savings banks partnering with NIB in Sweden for onlending to small and medium-sized enterprises. A seven-year-tenor loan facility totalling EUR 20 million was opened for SMEs and environmental investments in northern Sweden in autumn 2013.
The funds will be onlent to local SMEs, including many operating as subcontractors in the mining and forestry sectors, in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as to decrease nutrient discharges into the Baltic Sea. Regional projects eligible for financing include the construction of windmills, investments in the energy efficiency of retail customers and wastewater treatment projects.
The northern region, where Sparbanken Nord operates, accounts for about 25% of Sweden’s territory. The CEO of the savings bank, Erik Hägglöv, says that in terms of economic activity and investments northern Sweden rates second only to the country’s capital region.
“Some iron mining areas, such as Kiruna, are facing a large-scale investment period. This is related to the production of ‘iron ore green pellets’, an innovative technology that is expected to have a substantial impact on the iron smelting industry globally,” says Mr Hägglöv.
While the mining industry is the principle driver of the regional economy and the service SME sector depends on its advancement, the region puts much emphasis on the diversification of economic activities.
“Some areas are becoming depopulated for economic reasons if they are not diversified enough. Financing is needed for investments in machinery and equipment, research, ICT, energy efficiency and renewable energy production. These are our priorities. This is why we appreciate NIB’s involvement in providing access to finances for SMEs,” says Mr Hägglöv.
“We need partners for access to long-term funding and we are working together with Swedbank and now NIB.”
The head of Sparbanken Nord points out that many companies in the region consider the environmental factor extremely important for boosting their competitiveness.
“Still more companies emphasise their sound and environmentally responsible approach to business. SMEs in the food industry, for instance, have plans to start generating their own power from renewable sources to make sure their final products don’t leave a negative footprint in the environment,” says Mr Hägglöv.
Companies providing services to the mining industry use funds to modernise their machinery, replacing equipment with technologies causing fewer negative environmental effects. Another example is the use of energy-efficient technologies in housing. Modern solutions allow for very significant cuts in energy consumption. A research project is currently being carried out in the region on the use of industrial waste from paper mills. This waste can be reprocessed into car fuel.
“Small and medium-sized enterprises will be in need of financing ahead of the planned re-development of Kiruna,” continues Mr Hägglöv.
Over the next few years, the town centre will be gradually moved three kilometres to the east due to ground deformations discovered above one of the iron mines.
Mr Hägglöv is also the chairman of the 61-member Association of Savings Banks in Sweden. He thinks that many savings banks and their customers can gain a lot from cooperating around the goals such as strengthening competitiveness and improving the environment in their regions and communities.
“Savings banks normally have access to short-term deposit money. NIB can provide much longer tenors to finance infrastructure development and SME projects. This is extremely valuable for us,” Mr Hägglöv concludes.
Sparbanken Nord is the fourth largest independent savings bank in the country and has 14 branches in ten municipalities in northern Sweden. About two thirds of Sparbanken Nord’s lending comprises loans to households and individuals.