Chief Correspondent, Vienna, Vienna
Michael's Feed
Apr 10, 2014

Ukrainian activist claims he was tortured in Crimea

VIENNA (Reuters) – A Ukrainian activist said on Thursday he was abducted and tortured by a pro-Russian faction in Crimea in an 11-day ordeal before he was released in a prisoner swap last month.

Andrei Shchekun spoke to reporters in Vienna on the sidelines of a conference on torture hosted by the Organization for Security and Co-operation’s human rights arm, after being introduced by U.S. ambassador to the OSCE Daniel Baer.

Apr 3, 2014

Volksbanken says it can pass EU health check without more state aid

VIENNA, April 3 (Reuters) – Austrian bank Volksbanken AG
has enough capital to pass a European-wide health
check this year without needing more state aid as it presses
ahead with radical restructuring plan, it said on Thursday.

Getting Volksbanken – which failed a similar test in 2011 -
back onto solid ground would be a relief for Austria’s
government as it grapples with another nationalised bank, Hypo
Alpe Adria [HAABI.UL, whose chronic need for capital will
sharply inflate state debt and the budget deficit this year.

Apr 2, 2014

Austrian president poised for rare Western visit to Iran

VIENNA (Reuters) – Austrian President Heinz Fischer has ‘in principle’ accepted an invitation to visit Iran, his office said on Wednesday, in what would be the first trip for many years by a Western head of state.

Under President Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate who was elected last year, Iran has started to improve relations with the West by engaging with world powers over its disputed nuclear program.

Mar 27, 2014

Raiffeisen sticks to Russia as profits top forecasts

VIENNA, March 27 (Reuters) – Raiffeisen Bank International
(RBI) said it was committed to its Russian business
and played down potential problems in Ukraine that have cast a
shadow over central and eastern Europe’s number two lender.

But it was so concerned about the crisis in Ukraine – which
is locked in a confrontation with Russia over Moscow’s
annexation of Crimea – that it said previous targets for lending
and risk provisioning now depended on how those events play out.

Mar 19, 2014

Austrian MPs grill Iranian foreign minister over rights

VIENNA (Reuters) – Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif defended Iran’s human rights record to Austrian members of parliament on Wednesday but acknowledged there was room for improvement, according to people who took part in the meeting.

In Vienna for Iran’s nuclear negotiations with big powers, Zarif met members of parliament’s foreign affairs committee for talks on Iranian relations with the West, its nuclear program, human rights and the situation in Syria, participants said.

Mar 18, 2014

Ukraine’s Firtash says his detention ‘political’, raps U.S.

VIENNA (Reuters) – Ukrainian industrialist Dmytro Firtash, arrested in Austria last week at the request of the United States pending his possible extradition for suspected corruption, accused Washington on Tuesday of having him detained for “purely political” reasons.

Firtash, one of Ukraine’s most influential oligarchs, thrived under ousted President Viktor Yanukovich and has close ties to Russia through his gas business, but U.S. and Austrian authorities deny his detention is linked to the current tense East-West standoff over Ukraine’s breakaway region of Crimea.

Mar 14, 2014

U.S. to seek extradition of Ukrainian industrialist

WASHINGTON/VIENNA, March 14 (Reuters) – The U.S. government
will ask Austria to extradite Ukrainian industrialist Dmytro
Firtash to face charges filed in a Chicago court arising from an
investigation into international corruption, U.S. prosecutors
said on Friday.

One of Ukraine’s most influential oligarchs, Firtash, 48,
was arrested in Vienna on Wednesday. On Friday, a court there
ordered him held and set bail at $174 million (125 million

Mar 14, 2014

Austria finally rules out letting state lender Hypo go bust

VIENNA, March 14 (Reuters) – Austria has finally decided to
create a “bad bank” for 18 billion euros of assets at ailing
Hypo Alpe Adria because letting the state lender go
bust posed unforeseeable risks, Finance Minister Michael
Spindelegger said on Friday.

The decision ends months of wrangling over how to handle the
bank that Austria had to nationalise in 2009 to avoid a collapse
with regional implications, but comes at a cost for Hypo’s home
province of Carinthia and perhaps some Hypo investors.

Mar 13, 2014

Ukrainian gas oligarch Firtash arrested in Vienna on FBI warrant

VIENNA (Reuters) – Industrialist Dmytro Firtash, one of Ukraine’s most influential oligarchs with close links to Russia through his gas interests, has been arrested in Austria at the request of the United States.

Austria’s Federal Crime Agency said on Thursday that Firtash was held on Wednesday on suspicion of violating laws on bribery and forming a criminal organization in the course of foreign business deals.

Mar 13, 2014

BAWAG PSK repays state aid, says not for sale

VIENNA, March 13 (Reuters) – Austrian lender BAWAG PSK
is repaying all its state aid after strengthening
its balance sheet and more than doubling 2013 profits,
beautifying the bank for a potential sale that Chief Executive
Byron Haynes insisted was not imminent.

BAWAG, owned by U.S. investor Cerberus Capital Management
, is one of six Austrian banks to come under direct
European Central Bank supervision after stress tests this year,
a review the Vienna-based lender said it was eagerly awaiting.

    • 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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