Norwegian banking group DnB NOR said on Tuesday it had agreed with Germany's Norddeutsche Landesbank (NordLB) to launch joint operations in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as well as other countries on the Baltic rim. DnB NOR, Norway's largest bank, will pay 157 million euros ($190 million) for its 51 percent majority stake in the venture, while NordLB will hold 49 percent. Calling the Baltic rim "one of Europe's most dynamic regions," DnB NOR said NordLB's current market position was the basis for the venture. The agreement covers an area whose population totals about 82 million people. NordLB's presence in the region means that the venture, operational from January 2006, will from the start have 1,450 employees, 111 branch offices, 550,000 customers and total assets of 2.7 billion euros in Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. "NordLB has a firm foothold in the various markets in north-eastern Europe and has built a strong infrastructure, while DnB NOR will provide capital and expertise," the Norwegian bank said. In addition to the joint venture agreement, NordLB and DnB NOR are to strengthen their co-operation in their respective home markets. DnB NOR will also take over NordLB's Swedish operations.