During the banking crisis, Handelsbanken was the only major Swedish bank that was not forced to discuss applying for government aid. Handelsbanken was able to use the situation to advance its position on the Swedish banking market. Among other things, the Bank acquired the major mortgage loan player Stadshypotek in 1997.
Swedish foreign currency regulations were lifted in 1989, and a few years earlier it had become possible for Swedish banks to open branches abroad. In 1989, Handelsbanken opened its first branch in Norway. Through a combination of organic growth and acquisitions, Handelsbanken was able to take advantage of the historical opportunity for expansion created by the banking crisis in Norway in the early 1990s. In the 1990s, the Bank created a nationwide branch network in Norway, supplemented by the purchase of Bergensbanken in 1999.
In 1985, the Bank opened a representative office in Helsinki, Finland. Five years later, in December 1990, a subsidiary was formed, which was converted into a branch in August 1991 to gain full access to the parent company’s balance sheet. This marked the actual start of Handelsbanken in Finland. The first street-level branch was established at Eteläranta in Helsinki in 1993, and it opened in February 1994.
In Denmark, a representative office was opened in Copenhagen in 1990. Handelsbanken’s first Danish branch opened for business in 1996. In 2001, Handelsbanken purchased Midtbank, which had a very strong presence in the Danish region of Jutland, and in 2008, Handelsbanken acquired Lokalbanken i Nordsjælland A/S, with branches in a very attractive part of Denmark.
On 1 January 1998, branch operations in Norway, Finland and Denmark gained the status of separate regional banks, after which their business was run on the same principles as in Sweden.