Chief Correspondent, Vienna, Vienna
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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.

May 16, 2013

Austria misses EU deadline to sell Kommunalkredit

VIENNA, May 16 (Reuters) – Austria’s Kommunalkredit
could still be sold and does not need to be wound
down, the country’s market watchdog said on Thursday after
Vienna missed an EU privatisation deadline for the lender.

The sale of Kommunalkredit, a public-sector finance
specialist nationalised in 2008, was required under the terms of
Austria’s bailout. Its failure adds to the country’s problems
with the European Commission, which is already questioning state
aid to another Austrian bank.

May 15, 2013

Austrian rivals baulk at supporting Hypo Alpe Adria “bad bank”

VIENNA, May 15 (Reuters) – Austria’s banks are giving a
thumbs down to supporting the creation of a “bad bank” for Hypo
Alpe Adria to relieve pressure on state finances from
the nationalised lender.

Hypo Alpe Adria, rescued from collapse by the state in 2009,
has already swallowed more than 2 billion euros ($2.6 billion)
in government aid.

May 14, 2013

Austria determined to keep EU’s Syria arms embargo

VIENNA (Reuters) – Austria will resist British-led efforts to lift or dilute a European Union arms embargo on Syrian rebels, Chancellor Werner Faymann said on Tuesday, arguing that more weapons would only fan the fighting and may snuff out chances for peace talks.

The EU has to decide this month whether to renew or amend its sanctions on Syria, where more than 70,000 people have died in a two-year uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

May 8, 2013

Austria eyes Irish model to handle bank woes-sources

VIENNA, May 8 (Reuters) – Austria may adopt Ireland’s “bad
bank” model to help reorganise nationalised lender Hypo Alpe
Adria before an end-May deadline from the European
Commission for a new and more effective revamp plan, sources
close to the matter said.

Brussels and Vienna are at loggerheads over the pace of
overhauling Hypo, with the Commission keen for its operating
assets to be sold by the end of the year but the Austrians
fearful rushed sales could hurt state finances ahead of
elections due by late September.

May 2, 2013

ECB cuts rates to support flagging euro zone economy

BRATISLAVA (Reuters) – The European Central Bank cut interest rates for the first time in 10 months on Thursday, driven to act by an economy wallowing in recession and freed to do so by sharply falling inflation.

The ECB lowered its main interest rate by a quarter point to a new record low of 0.50 percent in response to a drop in inflation well below its target level, and rising unemployment.

    • 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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