Chief Correspondent, Vienna, Vienna
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Dec 3, 2013

Russian banks exposed in Ukraine political crisis

VIENNA/MOSCOW, Dec 3 (Reuters) – The political crisis in
Ukraine, sparked by an East-West power struggle in which Moscow
has gained the upper hand, is increasing the risk to the
country’s financial system and creating a particularly acute
headache for Russian banks.

As crowds took to the streets to protest after President
Viktor Yanukovich rejected a trade and cooperation deal with the
European Union last week in favour of closer ties with Russia,
its rattled central bank, low on reserves, appealed to people
not to pull their deposits from the banks.

Dec 3, 2013

UniCredit not put off by Ukraine turmoil

VIENNA (Reuters) – Unicredit will not walk away from Ukraine because of political unrest, particularly as its business there has been doing better than rivals, the Italian bank’s head of central and eastern Europe (CEE) said.

Gianni Franco Papa also told reporters in Vienna that CEE’s leading lender would have to reconsider its business in Hungary if Budapest imposes another round of taxes on banks, and that he was not worried about stress testing of its bank in Slovenia.

Nov 27, 2013

Raiffeisen Bank Int’l unfazed by looming stress tests

VIENNA, Nov 27 (Reuters) – Raiffeisen Bank International
(RBI) played down the potential impact from ECB-led
health checks of bank balance sheets next year and kept its
options open for beefing up its financial strength ahead of
repaying Austrian state aid.

Excluding 1.75 billion euros ($2.38 billion) in state aid
that needs to be repaid in just over three years, Vienna-based
RBI is undercapitalised versus regional rivals such as UniCredit
Bank Austria and Erste Group.

Nov 18, 2013

ECB has tools to ease but must take medium-term view: Nowotny

VIENNA/FRANKFURT (Reuters) – There is no need for the European Central Bank to respond with immediate policy reactions to below-target inflation, an ECB Governing Council member said on Monday.

Another said the worst of the euro zone’s economic woes are behind it.

The ECB cut interest rates to a record low earlier this month and said it could take them lower still to prevent the euro zone’s recovery from stalling after inflation tumbled to 0.7 percent – well below its target of just under 2 percent.

Nov 14, 2013

Austrian decision on Hypo Alpe Adria “bad bank” on hold

VIENNA, Nov 14 (Reuters) – Austria’s decision on how to set
up a “bad bank” for ailing state lender Hypo Alpe Adria is on
hold while the country’s two big political parties try to hash
out a fresh coalition, dragging out a problem that casts a
shadow over public finances.

Chancellor Werner Faymann of the Social Democrats (SPO) and
conservative leader Michael Spindelegger have agreed to earmark
5.8 billion euros ($7.8 billion) for struggling state banks if
the parties can agree to govern together for five more years.

Nov 13, 2013

Constantia Flexibles share offer to raise up to 821 mln euros

VIENNA, Nov 13 (Reuters) – Austrian packaging group
Constantia Flexibles (IPO-COFH.VI: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) plans to raise up to 821
million euros ($1.10 billion) in an initial public offering in
Frankfurt and Vienna on Nov. 27, valuing the firm at up to 1.43
billion euros.

Constantia, which ranks number two in Europe behind
Australia’s Amcor Ltd, said it would price its new
shares in a range of 19.50 to 25.50 euros each and would offer
up to 32.2 million shares for sale or 57.5 percent of the

Nov 11, 2013

Hypo bank woes heap pressure on Austrian coalition talks

VIENNA, Nov 11 (Reuters) – Nationalised lender Hypo Alpe
Adria’s urgent need for more state cash is heaping
pressure on Austria’s two biggest parties to agree coalition
terms and tackle stretched state finances.

As the Social Democrats (SPO) and the conservative People’s
Party (OVP) try to form a new government, a hole in state
finances exposes policy differences between the SPO – which
campaigned to protect public pensions and introduce a wealth tax
on millionaires – and the OVP, which wants to cut state spending
and has ruled out new taxes.

Nov 8, 2013

Fasting Austrian politician challenges stodgy status quo

VIENNA (Reuters) – A neophyte politician who summons up energy by fasting alone for days in the Vienna Woods hopes to help crack the stodgy crust of postwar Austrian politics after leading his new centrist Neos party into parliament.

Matthias Strolz said his liberal, pro-EU party’s task now was to draw on a groundswell of support for the day – not far off, he believes – when Austria’s two big parties finally lose the duopoly of power they have enjoyed since World War Two.

Oct 23, 2013

Arrest chills Swiss bankers’ travel plans

ZURICH (Reuters) – Seeing one of their select number hauled in handcuffs before a foreign court may prompt Swiss bankers to call their lawyers before they ring travel agents to book a winter break.

Arrested on a weekend trip to Bologna, former UBS man Raoul Weil now sits in an Italian jail fighting extradition to the United States – one of hundreds of Swiss bank executives caught up in accusations of helping Americans dodge their taxes.

Oct 15, 2013

Austria’s heavyweights begin coalition talks

VIENNA (Reuters) – Austria’s weakened political heavyweights began talks on Tuesday towards forming an effective new government to build a united front against the revitalized far right.

Chancellor Werner Faymann’s Social Democrats (SPO) and the conservative People’s Party (OVP), the centrist pro-Europe blocs that have dominated postwar politics and governed together since 2006, only just managed a joint majority in voting on September 29.

    • 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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