Finland's Nordea Bank suspends analysts whose research doubted Covid-19 vaccines

The analysts in the research note referred to governments battling Covid-19 as "lockdownistas" and questioned the efficacy of the vaccines. PHOTO: REUTERS

HELSINKI (BLOOMBERG) - Nordea Bank has suspended two senior analysts after retracting a controversial research note in which they referred to governments battling Covid-19 as "lockdownistas" and questioned the efficacy of the vaccines.

"We have initiated an internal review, and the two analysts will not write or publish during the review," the Helsinki-based bank said on Friday (Nov 26).

The Nordic region's biggest bank on Wednesday removed the note by chief analyst Martin Enlund and global chief strategist Andreas Steno Larsen from its website, after it caused a stir on Twitter and a Member of the Finnish Parliament, Mr Mikko Karna, questioned its contents.

Among the statements made in the note was that "the vaccine is apparently so good that you need to force people into taking it".

Mr Martin Persson, head of large corporates and institutions at the bank, apologised for the note, saying Nordea will continue to "publish credible analysis and research with integrity".

"As a bank, our expertise is banking - supporting and advising our customers on their financial situation," Mr Persson said in a statement. "We leave medical advice to the experts and therefore, as a company, we follow the authorities' guidance on vaccines against Covid-19."

Mr Enlund, 45, who joined Nordea in 2014 as chief analyst, had previously worked at Svenska Handelsbanken for nine years doing economic analysis.

Mr Steno Larsen has spent the bulk of his career, more than 10 years, at Nordea in various foreign exchange market roles, working his way up the ranks to become chief global strategist on macro, FX and rates in February 2020.

Both have frequently criticised official responses to the pandemic on Twitter, posting charts peppered with memes and using hashtags such as #dumbflation.

The Nordea analysts are not the only ones who have landed in hot water for controversial remarks in their research.

In September, Deutsche Bank analyst Jan Schildbach slammed the "qualifications" of German regulators as well as a "failed" government-backed pension system, prompting an apology from the bank's chief executive Christian Sewing.

In 2019, UBS Group put its chief economist on temporary leave over remarks he made on pork in China.

Commerzbank withdrew a research note from its Wirecard analyst after she dismissed reporting on the company by the Financial Times as "fake news".

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