Danske Bank axes dividends again over Estonia case

Danske Bank (DANSKE.CO) will not pay 2021 dividends, meant to be paid out each quarter this year, as it is still in discussions with Danish and U.S. authorities over involvement in a money laundering scandal in Estonia, the bank said on Friday.

“The board of directors has decided that Danske Bank will not pay out dividends for 2021 in connection with the announcement of the interim report for the second quarter of 2022,” Danske said.

Denmark’s biggest lender has said it faces a potentially “material” fine over its involvement in the scandal, in which more than 200 billion euros ($210 billion) of payments were funnelled through its now closed Estonian branch.

After paying a dividend of 2 Danish crowns ($0.27) per share in March, Danske said it would pay out a remaining 5.50 crowns per share in three tranches in connection with its quarterly reports this year.

But in April, Danske decided not to pay a dividend for the first quarter, because it had begun “discussions with U.S. and Danish authorities on resolution of the Estonia matter”.

“These discussions have not been concluded,” Danske said on Friday after it published second quarter earnings, adding that it could not comment on the timing or the size of a potential settlement or fine.

On Friday, Danske Bank reported second-quarter earnings in line with estimates published by the bank earlier in July, after it cut its full-year net profit outlook, citing rapidly rising interest rates and unfavourable financial market conditions.

The lender’s underlying business remained robust despite “high volatility in the financial markets and general economic turbulence,” Danske’s Chief Executive Carsten Egeriis said.

($1 = 7.3067 Danish crowns)