Nordic corporates are changing the way they do trade and source funding in order to manage the consequences of the eurozone crisis.

Export-dependent companies in Sweden, Norway and Finland are feeling the after-effects of the eurozone crisis, despite their stronger economic situation, speakers at Exporta’s Nordic region trade and export finance conference in Gothenburg said.

Anders Alftenius, senior manager, asset productivity at Swedish medical technology company Getinge, told GTR: “We’re having difficulties in getting paid from the Southern European countries, so as a result we will see an increase in credit insurance, and be more cautious and spend more time doing due diligence for our customers. We’ll also use more trade finance vehicles in order to support our sales.”

The eurozone crisis, along with pending Basel III implementation, has also hampered banks’ credit appetite, prompting Nordic corporates to change their sourcing strategies. Matti Malminen, director of trade and export finance at Finland’s construction equipment firm Konecranes, said: “We have to broaden our bank base in order to find more banks and their possibilities to help us, especially in the more difficult markets.”

Swedish-based Volvo has adopted a different view, reducing the number of banks it does business with. Göran Albertson, senior director of export finance, AB Volvo Corporate Finance, told GTR: “We are condensing the number of banks that we’re using in order to get better support for the various needs that we’re having in different fields. When we award certain pieces of our business to some of the banks, we also demand that they do certain other things for us.”

As European banks reduce their lending limits, more pressure is being put on Nordic banks to support the corporates of their regions, which suits their general strategy. Benjamin Swedberg, head of global transaction services, explained: “Nordic banks are quite good in sticking to their clients. They have a less global reach in their product lines; they are very client-driven, meaning that you follow your clients. That differs from global players.”

ECA support is also becoming crucial for Nordic firms, with Konecranes regularly using the services of Finnvera and Sweden’s EKN for example. “We are now in our fourth year of record-high demand, starting from the financial crisis in 2009, and we see demand increasing in OECD countries. As long as we have this insecure situation in the eurozone, demand will continue,” Helén Seemann, director of large corporates at EKN, told GTR.

The trade finance products used by corporates are also changing, with increased interest for open account transactions and the BPO, despite the continued popularity of letters of credit, especially in high-risk areas such as Africa – the number one growth market for Nordic exports.

Generally, Nordic corporates are quite confident about the future of their exports, but they point out that more dialogue is necessary between them and banks in order to tackle financial challenges.

Getinge’s Alftenius added: “The banks and corporates have to align themselves in order to target where the banks can facilitate our business to a higher degree. We have to be better as corporates to identify the areas where we need more help, but I also think banks have to be a little bit more proactive.”