HSH Nordbank achieves fresh start under difficult market conditions (DE)

HSH Nordbank succeeded in making a fresh start in the past year despite the very difficult conditions underlying the banking industry.

"The conclusion of the EU state aid proceedings last September marked the beginning of a new era for us. We were quick in getting started with implementing the EU‟s tough requirements and at the same time successfully launched our new business model. In so doing, we established a good starting point for further expanding our position as a 'bank for entrepreneurs' on the market in the years ahead," said Paul Lerbinger, Chairman of the Management Board, at HSH Nordbank's balance sheet press conference in Hamburg.

Focus on the entrepreneur target group bearing fruit
The end to the more than two and a half years EU state aid proceedings – the standout event for HSH Nordbank in its past financial year – entailed a range of conditions and commitments. Among others, these include downsizing the Bank significantly and relinquishing some areas of business.

Our entrepreneurial answer to this challenge involves the fundamental reorganization of HSH Nordbank Bank into a sales-driven and medium-sized bank for entrepreneurs. The Management Board launched the transformation program immediately following the EU decision and has since resolutely taken it forward. Especially in northern Germany the Bank is focused on business with corporate clients, real estate clients as well as clients in upmarket private banking and on business with savings banks.

On the international level, HSH Nordbank is concentrating, in the context of its new business model, on entrepreneurial clients in the areas of shipping as well as energy and infrastructure. Generally, HSH Nordbank is aiming for owner-managed businesses and their owners.

In this group we also include ship-owners in the shipping business and property developers in the real estate business. The concentration on a clearly defined target group that this entails and our focus on a product range tailored precisely for this clientele already bore first fruit in the past year.

This was reflected especially in the second half of the year – i.e. after the new business model was launched – in the amount of new business concluded, in successfully gaining new clients and in the extended scope of cross-selling.

"We have already received a high amount of approval from our clients for our new concept. In operating terms, HSH Nordbank has therefore emerged stronger from its 2011 financial year," Paul Lerbinger said.

Positive result before restructuring cancelled out by exceptional charges resulting from conclusion of the EU state aid proceedings
Both the direct and indirect effects of the EU proceedings impacted on HSH Nordbank's figures.

In a very challenging market setting, the Bank closed out its 2011 financial year with a satisfactory result before restructuring. The respective figure improved by more than 50% year on year to €914 million, helped by the hedging effect of the second loss guarantee. However, various negative, exceptional factors cancelled out this positive result before restructuring.

First and foremost this involved the one-off payment required by the EU of €500 million to the guarantors, i.e. the federal states of Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein. This raised expenditure on public-sector guarantees – despite the significant reduction in the corresponding amount during the past year – to €-883 million (previous year: €-519 million). Furthermore, the result of restructuring amounting to €-235 million (previous year: €-9 million) had a negative impact. In particular, this item includes spending on the Bank's reorganization as necessitated by the EU's decision.

As forecast in August of last year, a negative result was recorded after deducting taxes. Given the circumstances, this was a moderate consolidated net loss of €-263 million, as opposed to net income of €104 million in the previous year.

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