Chief Correspondent, Vienna, Vienna
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Jul 2, 2013

CEO quits ailing Austrian bank Hypo Alpe Adria

VIENNA, July 2 (Reuters) – The chief executive of
nationalised Austrian bank Hypo Alpe Adria resigned
on Tuesday, saying that political wrangling over whether the
lender was worth keeping afloat had made his job impossible.

Gottwald Kranebitter became the second top Hypo official to
leave within a month in a saga that highlights Austrian banks’
exposure to central and eastern Europe (CEE) and taxpayers’
reluctance to keep footing the bill when things go wrong.

Jul 1, 2013

Erste launches capital increase to help repay state aid

VIENNA, July 1 (Reuters) – Austria’s Erste Group Bank
launched on Monday a share sale to raise around 660
million euros ($858 million) to help repay state aid.

Central and eastern Europe’s third-biggest lender announced
plans for the capital increase last week, saying it would use
the money to help repay 1.76 billion euros in non-voting
participation capital it raised in 2009 to help it weather the
financial crisis.

Jun 26, 2013

Political will and big spending put Austrians to work

VIENNA, June 26 (Reuters) – Sebastian Liedl is 17, and in
half a year will be a fully qualified employee at the Austrian
steel group Voestalpine, where he can look forward to
a starting monthly wage of about 2,000 euros ($2,600).

Unlike his contemporaries in Greece, Spain or Portugal,
Liedl has never feared unemployment. He always knew he wanted to
follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather at Voest,
where he is part of an extensive apprenticeship programme.

Jun 24, 2013

Erste cash call U-turn, profit forecast cut roils shares

VIENNA (Reuters) – Erste Group Bank (ERST.VI: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) on Monday reversed guidance from just two months ago, saying it plans a cash call to help repay emergency state funding and that operating profit will fall this year rather than hold steady.

Its stock fell almost 10 percent, roughly matching what analysts say will be the extent of earnings dilution from the new shares.

Jun 24, 2013

Erste to issue shares to repay state aid, cuts outlook

VIENNA, June 24 (Reuters) – Erste Group Bank will
raise about 660 million euros ($867 million) in equity and repay
state aid in the third quarter, it said on Monday, forecasting
operating profit would fall as much as 5 percent in 2013 rather
than holding steady.

Central and eastern Europe’s No. 3 lender said it would
repay 1.76 billion euros in non-voting participation capital it
got when the financial crisis began. Two-thirds came from
Austria and the rest from private investors.

Jun 19, 2013

Austria’s Alpine Bau goes bust, Spain’s FCC takes hit

VIENNA/MADRID, June 19 (Reuters) – Alpine Bau GmbH,
Austria’s second-biggest construction firm, filed for insolvency
on Wednesday with liabilities of up to 2.6 billion euros ($3.5
billion) in what could become the country’s biggest corporate
collapse since World War Two.

The move deals Spanish parent FCC a hit of 289
million euros after tax, affects lenders including Bank Austria
and Erste Group, saddles Austrian taxpayers
with as yet undetermined losses from debt guarantees, and could
lead to thousands of job losses.

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.

    • 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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