Chief Correspondent, Austria, Vienna, Austria
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Dec 2, 2009

E.Europe bankers to meet to tackle fx loans -sources

NEW YORK, Dec 2 (Reuters) – Senior central and eastern
European bankers and regulators will meet IMF and other
officials in London on Thursday to wean the region off its toxic
asset of choice: lending in foreign currencies.

The habit of consumers and companies in the former Communist
bloc to borrow in hard currencies for everything from TV sets to
second homes to harvesters is one of the main reasons the region
teetered on the edge of abyss earlier this year.

Nov 16, 2009

ECB urges banks to prepare for slow, steady exit

NICOSIA/VIENNA (Reuters) – The European Central Bank will not drop all of its extra liquidity support until it becomes concerned about risks on inflation, Governing Council member Athanasios Orphanides told Reuters.

In an interview with Reuters, Orphanides said inflation expectations over the ECB’s policy horizon were on the low side and the ECB’s current “very accommodative” stance with record low interest rates and generous liquidity was appropriate.

Nov 6, 2009

Wienerberger Q3 misses forecasts, E.Europe weighs

VIENNA, Nov 6 (Reuters) – World No.1 brickmaker Wienerberger
<WBSV.VI> missed forecasts for third-quarter core earnings and
warned full-year results would also fall short as business in
emerging Europe and the United States showed no signs of pickup.

Wienerberger, highly geared to the contracting residential
construction market, took its biggest hit in central and eastern
Europe in the third quarter, where core earnings almost halved,
and in the United States, where it turned negative.

Oct 30, 2009

Erste says “worst behind us”, but keeps state aid

VIENNA (Reuters) – Erste Group <ERST.VI> said signs the worst may be over for banks in emerging Europe were not yet strong enough for it to ditch the safety net of state protection by using a 1.65 billion euro ($2.4 billion) cash call to pay back aid.

The bank, eastern Europe’s No.3 lender, cheered investors with better than expected third quarter earnings on Friday after it asked them to sign up for a no-discount rights issue earmarked to help it withstand rising bad debts in the region.

Oct 29, 2009

Erste in $2.4 bln issue to bring capital in line

VIENNA, Oct 29 (Reuters) – Erste Group Bank AG <ERST.VI>
launched a 1.65 billion euros ($2.43 billion) no-discount
rights issue on Thursday to bring its capital base in line with
raised expectations as loan losses in emerging Europe mount.

The Vienna-based bank will offer up to 60 million new
shares, or 19 percent of the outstanding capital, and will try
to sell them at market prices rather than offer the discounts
of 30 percent to 40 percent other European banks have granted.

Oct 28, 2009

Ford picks Geely for Volvo; Magna upbeat on Opel

LONDON/GRAZ, Austria (Reuters) – Ford Motor Co chose China’s Geely as preferred bidder for Volvo Cars while Magna said it still hoped to clinch a deal to buy a majority stake in Opel from GM after a board meeting on November 3

The shake-up of a car industry pummeled by the deepest crisis in decades continued, as Italy’s Fiat readied for the November 4 presentation of the five-year plan it hopes will turn around struggling partner Chrysler in Detroit.

Oct 28, 2009

Magna, Opel upbeat that sale will go through

GRAZ, Austria (Reuters) – Top officials from Magna and Opel expressed confidence on Wednesday that General Motors will go through with selling its European arm to Canada’s Magna despite a second chance to review the deal.

GM’s board of directors is due to meet on Tuesday to reconsider its decision in light of assurances from Germany that 4.5 billion euros ($6.68 billion) in state aid was available to any Opel buyer — not just Magna, Berlin’s favored bidder.

Sep 30, 2009

Strabag says banks not lending

VIENNA (Reuters) – A lack of bank financing, not demand, is the main factor holding back construction projects in emerging Europe at the moment, the region’s biggest builder Strabag told the Reuters Central European Investment Summit.

Board member Thomas Birtel, who oversees Strabag’s building and civil engineering business, said that a lot of its customers in Poland had promising plans that they could not realize because of a lack of bank funding.

Sep 29, 2009

Hungary could curb fx lending, OTP disagrees

VIENNA (Reuters) – Hungary’s central bank said on Tuesday the country should consider imposing higher capital requirements on foreign currency loans if banks fail to curb them themselves, while the country’s biggest bank said it was unlikely to do so.

Vice-Governor Ferenc Karvalits told the Reuters Central European Investment Summit on Tuesday the central bank had suggested that Hungary’s financial regulator PSZAF convince the country’s banks to rein in FX lending voluntarily.

Sep 28, 2009

E. Europe banks, regulators head for FX loan fight

VIENNA (Reuters) – European Central Bank governing council member Ewald Nowotny called for tighter restrictions on foreign currency lending in eastern Europe on Monday, saying it had no place in credit for ordinary consumers.

Speaking at the Reuters Central European Investment Summit, Nowotny — who oversees some of emerging Europe’s biggest lenders as head of the Austrian central bank — said general rules were needed if banks’ self-regulation did not help.

    • About Boris

      "I am Reuters Chief Correspondent in Vienna and mainly cover the Austrian banking sector. I also help coordinate our coverage of banking in the broader emerging European region, where Austrian banks are among the major players."
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