The Stockholm-based bank said the net loss for the quarter totaled 3.36 billion kronor ($396 million), down from a profit of 2.9 billion kronor in the same period a year ago.
Of Sweden's major banks, Swedbank has suffered most from the global credit crunch because of its large exposure to the dramatic economic slump in the Baltic nations of Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, as well as the Ukraine. Loan losses for the period widened to 6.85 billion kronor ($807 million) from 288 million a year earlier. The bank said 6.6 billion of the total were provisions, mostly for the Baltics.
"Swedbank faces one of the biggest challenges in the bank's history. The global economic downturn has worsened as the financial crisis increasingly affects the real term economy," Swedbank's chief executive officer Michael Wolf said in a statement. The company said it has decided to reevaluate the markets in Ukraine and Russia and develop its business there with "a low level of ambition" due to the economic and political uncertainties. It will reduce the number of branches and cut staff at its operations in the Baltics in the coming quarters, with an aim to cut costs there by 15 percent. The bank said the deteriorating economic outlook in the Ukraine also resulted in an impairment of intangible assets of 1.3 billion kronor ($150 million) in the quarter.