SWEDEN: ICA to set up its own bank
The Nordic region's largest food retail group, Sweden's ICA, said it will set up a bank in a move to further increase services and add financial services to the group's three million ICA card holders."It will be Internet-based financial services with some additional services, such as insurance packages, offered in the stores," ICA managing director Roland Fahlin said.ICA currently has no banking charter but has for several years been able to allow its card holders to keep up to SKr15,000 on their accounts, money to be considered as "forward payments" on future purchases, and not as bank deposits. The interest-bearing accounts have been very popular as they have been consistently offering higher returns than ordinary bank deposits.Through its cooperation with Norway's petrol and oil grop Statoil, with which ICA runs the food operations at Statoil Nordic petrol stations, and its Norwegian network through the Hakon group, ICA is in the position to more than double its card member service to six million holders - more than many Nordic commercial banks.The potential number of ICA card members is also likely to grow further, considering the group's ambtious growth plans. It has already set up its first operations in Denmark and has some 30 outlets the Baltics. ICA, which is half-owned by Dutch Ahold, last year had a combined turnover of DKr58bn.
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