Chief Correspondent, Vienna, Vienna
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Jun 14, 2013

Austria corruption crackdown spreading its net wide

VIENNA, June 14 (Reuters) – Suspicions of bribery at
Austria’s central bank have dragged it into a nationwide
crackdown on corruption that has shaken confidence in the
country’s highest ranks of power and prestige.

Vienna prosecutors this week charged nine people, including
the deputy governor of the Austrian National Bank, over
suspected bribes and kickbacks for banknote contracts with
Azerbaijan and Syria.

Jun 7, 2013

Raiffeisen opts for continuity with new CEO

VIENNA, June 7 (Reuters) – Raiffeisen Bank International
(RBI) named veteran insider Karl Sevelda on Friday to
succeed Herbert Stepic as chief executive, signalling no quick
change in strategy for central and eastern Europe’s
second-biggest lender.

Sevelda, 63, has been deputy CEO since 2010 and remains head
of corporate banking for now at the Austrian group, which
extended his contract until mid-2017 to avoid the kind of rushed
succession debate triggered by Stepic’s exit under a cloud.

Jun 6, 2013

Austria to quit Golan after Syria clashes, in blow to U.N.

VIENNA (Reuters) – Austria will withdraw its peacekeepers from the U.N. monitoring force on the Golan Heights, after worsening fighting between Syrian government forces and rebels sent its soldiers scurrying into bunkers for cover earlier on Thursday.

Austrians account for about 380 of the 1,000-strong U.N. force observing a decades-old ceasefire between Syria and Israel, and their departure will deal a blow to the mission.

Jun 6, 2013

Raiffeisen’s eastern strategy on the line after CEO exit

VIENNA (Reuters) – The central and eastern European banking empire that Herbert Stepic forged at Austrian lender Raiffeisen may be the casualty of a power struggle at the group exposed by his sudden exit.

Stepic, 66, has depicted his abrupt resignation last month as chief executive of Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) as a selfless effort to protect the group from damaging publicity about his personal property investments.

May 31, 2013

Hypo Alpe shake-up moves ahead with Austrian unit sale

VIENNA, May 31 (Reuters) – Nationalised Austrian lender Hypo
Alpe Adria agreed on Friday to sell its domestic
business to a British investor, the first step in a break-up
demanded by the European Commission as a consequence of the
bank’s rescue in the financial crisis.

The deal was announced just as Austria was sending the
Commission a revised plan for reorganising Hypo, a government
source said, declining to give any more details.

May 28, 2013

Raiffeisen eyes H2 upturn to ease reliance on Russia

VIENNA (Reuters) – Raiffeisen Bank International (RBIV.VI: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) is counting on a gradual economic upturn in central and eastern Europe to help boost business later this year and reduce its reliance on Russia, where it in effect made all its first-quarter profit.

Emerging Europe’s second-biggest lender on Tuesday stuck to its 2013 outlook that net provisions for bad loans and its net interest margin, which edged higher year on year, would roughly match 2012 levels as customer loans rise slightly.

May 28, 2013

ECB’s Nowotny says better to revive bank lending than cut rates

VIENNA (Reuters) – The European Central Bank is looking at ways to boost banks’ liquidity rather than cutting interest rates, ECB policymaker Ewald Nowotny said in an interview with Reuters.

Sitting in his wood-panelled office at the Austrian central bank in Vienna, the ECB Governing Council member said he expected the economy to brighten eventually.

May 24, 2013

Raiffeisen CEO quits over offshore deals

VIENNA, May 24 (Reuters) – Raiffeisen Bank International
Chief Executive Herbert Stepic resigned on Friday in
what he called an effort to spare his bank from negative
publicity over personal property deals that triggered scrutiny
by the lender and regulators.

Stepic, 66, again denied wrongdoing in using front companies
in the Caribbean and Asia to buy flats in Singapore in 2006 and
2008 – deals exposed by the Offshore Leaks investigative
journalism project – but said he decided to quit out of loyalty
to Raiffeisen.

May 23, 2013

Austrian central bank to check Raiffeisen boss’s property deals

VIENNA, May 23 (Reuters) – Austria’s central bank is to
investigate personal property deals by Raiffeisen Bank
International’s chief executive after media reports he
had made use of front companies.

In a career spanning decades at the group, Herbert Stepic,
66, forged Raiffeisen into central and eastern Europe’s
second-biggest lender and he remains a towering figure at the
bank. He has denied any wrongdoing.

May 21, 2013

Austria says peackeepers may quit Golan if EU arms rebels

VIENNA (Reuters) – Austria may pull its peacekeeping troops from the Golan Heights, evacuating the U.N. buffer zone, its defence minister warned on Tuesday, as Syria and Israel exchanged fire across a long dormant frontline now inflamed by civil war.

Vienna’s warning was aimed at Britain and other allies which want to help Syrian rebels by lifting an EU arms embargo – doing so, minister Gerald Klug told Reuters, would rob Austrian troops of their neutrality in a Syrian conflict that has already seen foreign peacekeepers come under fire and some even held hostage.

    • 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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