Financial Regulatory Forum

Austrian bank tax could lead to sell-out -RZB

February 5, 2010
Raiffeisen Zentralbank Chief Executive Walter Rothensteiner

Raiffeisen Zentralbank Chief Executive Walter Rothensteiner

    VIENNA, Feb 5 (Reuters) – An Obama-style bank tax proposed by Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann could lead to a sector sell-out to foreign buyers, the head of Raiffeisen Zentralbank [RZB.UL], one of Austria’s top lenders, was quoted as saying on Friday.
   Faymann has proposed raising around 500 million euros ($686 million) by charging banks 0.07 percent of their total assets as a “solidarity levy”, a proposal similar to one made by U.S. President Barack Obama.
   RZB Chief Executive Walter Rothensteiner, who also chairs Austria’s banking association, told newspaper Der Standard new global bank rules dubbed “Basel 3″ were already putting pressure on banks, and that a bank tax would up that pressure.
   “This tightening is going to happen and therefore we have to fight back against everything, including the bank tax, that takes away the chance for us to fulfil those new rules as soon as possible,” Rothensteiner said.
   “If the banks have no way of earning this capital, we’ll all belong to foreign owners at some point,” he said. “The risk exists that just a couple of giants will be left in Europe … along with a couple of impoverished regional banks.”
   Faymann’s proposal comes after Austria stepped in to nationalise ailing banks Kommunalkredit [KKAT.UL] and Hypo Group Alpe Adria, formerly owned by Germany’s BayernLB [BAYLB.UL], and injected some 5 billion euros of capital.
   Rothensteiner reiterated he was not interested in buying all or parts of Oesterreichische Volksbanken <OTVVp.VI>, another troubled Austrian bank, but that he may look at parts of Hypo if the government breaks it up.
  (Reporting by Boris Groendahl; editing by John Stonestreet)
  ((boris.groendahl@reuters.com; +43 1 53112-258; Reuters Messaging: boris.groendahl.reuters.com@reuters.net)) ($1=.7292 Euro)
 Keywords: AUSTRIA/BANKS
  
Friday, 05 February 2010 07:39:41RTRS [nLDE614072] {C}ENDS

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