Pohjola opens Riga branch in Baltic expansion move05.09.2012, 17:12
Finnish Pohjola is expanding its operations in the Baltic countries by opening a corporate branch office in Riga, writes news2biz LATVIA.
Pohjola has already since 2008 run leasing activities in Latvia and the other two Baltic states and has been present in the Baltics for the past twenty years through the local non-life insurer Seesam.
"We are adding a new feature to our offering in Latvia with a relatively small investment and effort as we build on the leasing activities that we already have there," explains Jorma Alanne, Pohjola's Executive Vice President Baltic Banking, to news2biz.
"At the moment we have 24 staff at the Latvian office, it will grow if necessary in order to match growing business," says Alanne.
"Our aim is to serve Finnish corporate clients, large and medium enterprises, and through them we hope to target Latvian companies of the same size. Our leasing business has some small business clients, but we will not go for that segment in corporate banking," says Alanne.
In addition to Pohjola clients the new branch office means that also corporate customers of cooperate member banks of Finland's OP-Pohjola group will have access to payment and cash management services in Latvia.
"Our advantage is that we have the knowledge of the Finnish customers and we have a substantial experience in providing corporate financing which of course will also benefit Latvian clients," says Alanne. The banker is impressed by the number of Finnish corporate clients in Latvia and states that it is comparable to Estonia only without the small Finnish enterprises that due to linguistic, cultural and geographic proximity have settled in Estonia.
Pohjola's Tallinn office has 28 staff. Vilnius will get its Pohjola office during 2013. Although some words uttered by Pohjola's management back at the opening of the Tallinn office last June could be interpreted to the effect that Pohjola is contemplating opening up even to private customers in the Baltics, this is dismissed by Alanne. "This is not in our plans," he says.
Pohjola Bank plc is a Finnish financial services group that provides banking, non-life insurance and asset management for clients. Pohjola has been listed on the Large Cap List of the NASDAQ OMX Helsinki since 1989. Pohjola's consolidated earnings before tax came to EUR 258m in 2011 and the balance amounted to EUR 41bn on 31 December 2011. Pohjola is part of OP-Pohjola Group, the leading financial services group in Finland, which has over four million customers.