Chief Correspondent, Vienna, Vienna
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Jun 12, 2014

Sberbank shuns emerging Europe takeovers, targets Germany

VIENNA, June 12 (Reuters) – Sberbank, Russia’s
largest lender, will focus on organic growth in central and
eastern European operations for the time being while opening a
new front in online banking in Germany, its European chief said
on Thursday.

The Russian lender is still digesting the eastern European
network it bought two years ago from Austria’s Volksbanken AG,
Sberbank Europe Chief Executive Mark Arnold told reporters, so
acquisitions in the CEE region are not a priority.

Jun 11, 2014

Austria to wipe out some Hypo guaranteed debt-sources

VIENNA, June 11 (Reuters) – Austria aims to wipe out 890
million euros ($1.21 billion) of subordinated Hypo Alpe Adria
debt guaranteed by the bank’s home province of Carinthia to
ensure that investors – not just taxpayers – share wind-down
costs for the lender, government sources said.

The officials said draft legislation due to be approved by
the cabinet on Wednesday also targets an 800 million-euro
contribution from BayernLB, the German landesbank
which co-owned Hypo when Austria had to nationalise
it in 2009 to save it from collapse.

Jun 6, 2014

Interest rates have reached bottom for now: ECB’s Nowotny

VIENNA (Reuters) – The European Central Bank does not intend to cut interest rates further “for the foreseeable time” after pushing them to record lows on Thursday, ECB Governing Council member Ewald Nowotny said on Friday.

He reiterated to a news conference that the ECB did not have an exchange rate target for the euro and had no intention to intervene to cap its strength, which he described as evidence that the euro zone debt crisis was now over.

Jun 6, 2014

Austria rolls dice with Hypo debt haircut law

VIENNA, June 6 (Reuters) – Austria will enter uncharted
territory for bond markets next week when it unveils legislation
designed to force some subordinated creditors of Hypo Alpe Adria
to help pay for winding down the stricken
nationalised bank.

It is a plan entirely in line with the latest thinking in
Europe on how to handle banks in crisis: make their owners and
investors – not taxpayers – pay to clean up the mess. “Bailing
in” junior bank creditors is also nothing new, as seen elsewhere
in Europe, including Ireland and the Netherlands.

Jun 4, 2014

Raiffeisen Bank International to repay state aid on Friday

VIENNA (Reuters) – Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank International will this week repay the 1.75 billion euros ($2.4 billion) of state aid it got in the financial crisis, joining the ranks of lenders that have weaned themselves off government help by boosting their balance sheets.

The repayment of the non-voting capital will make Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) the third Austrian lender – after Erste Group and BAWAG PSK – to hand back taxpayer money after tapping their owners for more equity.

Jun 4, 2014

Raiffeisen Bank Int’l to repay all state aid on June 6

VIENNA, June 4 (Reuters) – Raiffeisen Bank International
will repay this week the 1.75 billion euros ($2.4
billion) in non-voting capital it raised from Austria in 2009 to
help weather the financial crisis, Chief Executive Karl Sevelda
told shareholders.

“Early today … we got authorisation from the Financial
Market Authority (FMA) and on June 6 we will repay to Austria
the entire state share of the participation capital worth 1.75
billion euros,” he said on Wednesday.

May 24, 2014

Austria pushes Hypo debt bail-in despite Moody’s warning

VIENNA, May 24 (Reuters) – Austria will propose within weeks
draft legislation to make Hypo Alpe Adria’s subordinated
creditors help pay for winding down the nationalised bank
despite ratings agency Moody’s warning about the impact of
imposing haircuts on bondholders.

The legislation will focus on “bailing in” holders of nearly
900 million euros ($1.23 billion) of debt guaranteed by Hypo’s
home province of Carinthia, not the 1 billion euros of debt with
federal guarantees, a finance ministry spokesman said on

May 22, 2014

Raiffeisen beats Q1 profit estimates, to repay aid soon

VIENNA, May 22 (Reuters) – Raiffeisen Bank International
reported first-quarter profit that beat market
expectations, saying its Russian business was “relatively
normal” and it could soon pay back nearly 2 billion euros ($2.73
billion) in state aid.

Shares in the Austrian lender jumped more than 5 percent in
early trade on Thursday, as rising net interest income provided
a positive surprise, while risk provisions rose less than
expected despite a hit from Ukraine.

May 15, 2014

Heads roll as Austrian students tested on Nazi apologist text

VIENNA (Reuters) – Two senior Austrian educators will step down over a scandal in which a test administered to school-leavers featured an essay by a Nazi apologist, the latest in a series of missteps in awarding high school diplomas.

Following a high-profile data leak and a failure to communicate new grading scales, the final straw came when this year’s German test included a 1947 text by German author Manfred Hausmann, who had worked for Nazi propaganda magazine Das Reich.

May 12, 2014

Nowotny says would prefer “package” of ECB measures

VIENNA, May 12 (Reuters) – An interest rate cut alone will
not be enough to deal with persistently low inflation in the
euro zone, ECB policymaker Ewald Nowotny said on Monday as the
central bank gets ready to add more stimulus as soon as June.

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said last week
the ECB is prepared to take action next month to boost the euro
zone economy if its updated staff inflation forecasts merit it.

    • About Michael

      "Mike has worked for Reuters for two decades and reported from more than a dozen countries on business and general news. His beats have included covering the European automotive industry, business news from Switzerland, German defense and security policy, and Hungary's transition to a market democracy after the collapse of communism in eastern Europe"
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