Standard Ethics Lowers Nordea’s Outlook

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Stockholm (Ekonamik) – Standard Ethics lowered Nordea’s outlook from “stable” to “negative”. Nordea enjoys a “very strong”, investment grade “EE+” rating from Standard Ethics. This is the third highest rating from the agency, behind “EEE” and “EEE-“.

The announcement suggests that the decision was based on recent controversies. “In the recent past, the Bank has faced a number of controversial events,” the rating agency commented.  “Standard Ethics will examine in detail all further implementations it considers appropriate to make in terms of risk management, anti-fraud training, anti-corruption, internal supervision and control.”

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The statement cites three examples of its concern with controversies that Nordea is involved in. Citing a Bloomberg article from March, it points to Nordea’s role in handling in € 700 million in funds that may be linked to the death of Sergei Magnitsky. It also cites a note from the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) from October 2016 requiring an in-depth investigation of Nordea and other Nordic financial institutions following a complaint by Trustly that these companies infringed EEA competition rules. Finally, it also cites a Reuters article from November 2018 noting that Nordea, together with Danske Bank and SEB were being investigated for tax fraud in Denmark.

Nevertheless, the company noted that Nordea’s “ESG governance and reporting system is – according to Standard Ethics methodology– aligned with international sustainability guidelines and strategies. There is a good level of independence on the Board, as well as diversity of professional experience, nationality, and gender equality. The Nordic Bank has also adopted good ESG practices in many of its business areas, as seen in its ‘Responsible Investment Policy’.”

Standard Ethics is an independent sustainability rating agency that has been publishing ESG studies since 2004. The rating agency aims to promote sustainability and governance standard principles emanating from the European Union, the OECD and the United Nations

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Aviva Investors, the global asset management business of Aviva plc (‘Aviva’), has been awarded ‘A+’ and ‘A’ ratings by the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), the world’s leading proponent of responsible investing, as part of the organisation’s 2020 Assessment Reports for signatories.

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