Chief Correspondent, Vienna, Vienna
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Jul 7, 2015

Furniture magnate Schelling steers Austrian finance overhaul

VIENNA, July 7 (Reuters) – Finance Minister Hans Joerg
Schelling has an unusual fondness for tackling thorny issues
head on, an attribute displayed with a proposed solution to the
festering problem of Vienna’s obligations to neighbouring
Bavaria over bad bank Heta.

Schelling, 61, has made it his mission to reshape Austria’s
finances and halt its slide into economic mediocrity,
shepherding his cabinet colleagues to put aside debate and
finally act since taking the role less than a year ago.

Jun 29, 2015

Novartis buys pain drug firm Spinifex for $200 million upfront

BASEL, Switzerland (Reuters) – Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG (NOVN.VX: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) boosted its presence in pain management on Monday by agreeing to buy U.S.-Australian biotech firm Spinifex Pharmaceuticals, the companies said in separate statements on Monday.

Spinifex said Novartis was paying $200 million upfront and Spinifex shareholders could get further payments based on clinical development and regulatory milestones. The transaction is expected to close in the second half of this year, pending regulatory approval.

Jun 29, 2015

Swiss central bank breaks silence to trumpet intervention threat

ZURICH/LONDON (Reuters) – Unusual public confirmation that the Swiss National Bank intervened to weaken the franc escalated its battle to rein in a currency whose strength amid Greece’s debt crisis is hamstringing an export-reliant economy.

“We have always said that we are active in the foreign exchange market if necessary,” SNB Chairman Thomas Jordan said at a financial seminar on Monday. “A situation like we experienced over the weekend is a situation which warranted this need and we went in to stabilize the market.”

Jun 26, 2015

FIFA official has bail request turned down: Swiss court

ZURICH (Reuters) – One of seven soccer officials arrested in Zurich last month on suspicion of racketeering following a U.S. extradition request has had a request for bail rejected, with a Swiss court saying on Friday he posed a “risk of flight”.

The officials were detained in a dawn raid on May 27 on a luxury Zurich hotel two days before FIFA’s annual Congress, throwing soccer’s governing body into turmoil. They have since been held in prisons around the Zurich region.

Jun 17, 2015

Austrian “bad bank” Heta has 7 bln eur capital hole

VIENNA, June 17 (Reuters) – Austrian “bad bank” Heta Asset
Resolution had a capital shortfall of 7 billion euros
($7.9 billion) at the end of 2014 after writing down overvalued
assets, at the upper end of the gap originally estimated at
4-7.6 billion euros.

The size of its capital hole will help determine the extent
of debt “haircuts” that its creditors face.

Jun 15, 2015

ECB’s Nowotny counts costs of potential Grexit

VIENNA, June 15 (Reuters) – European Central Bank Governing
Council member Ewald Nowotny acknowledged on Monday calculating
the costs of a Greek exit from the euro zone, a rare admission
from a central banker as Athens struggles to reach a deal with
its creditors.

His comments underscored the sense of urgency in Europe.
Germany’s EU commissioner said it was time to prepare for a
“state of emergency” after talks fell apart at the weekend to
rescue Greece from default and possible exit from the euro.

Jun 12, 2015

Erste Group on track to buy Citi’s Hungary retail portfolio -sources

BUDAPEST/VIENNA, June 12 (Reuters) – Austrian Erste Group
is on track to acquire Citigroup Inc’s Hungarian
retail portfolio, several banking sources told Reuters.

Under a deal with Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government,
Erste affirmed its commitment to Hungary in February, pledging
to boost lending in return for a cut in a heavy bank tax and
other conciliatory measures.

Jun 2, 2015

New capital demands for Austrian banks bode ill for dividends

VIENNA, June 2 (Reuters) – New capital requirements that the
Austrian authorities will impose on their big banks are
undermining dividend prospects and underscore the fragmented
approach being taken to regulating the sector, despite efforts
to foster a European banking union, analysts and officials said
on Tuesday.

The national Financial Market Stability Board said Erste
Group, Bank Austria, Raiffeisen Zentralbank
and Raiffeisen Bank International should hold
an extra 3 percentage-point capital cushion by mid-2017.

May 29, 2015

Iran provides some information in U.N. nuclear inquiry: IAEA

VIENNA (Reuters) – Iran has provided some information about one of two open items in a U.N. nuclear watchdog investigation into whether it may have researched an atomic bomb, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported on Friday.

The confidential IAEA report, obtained by Reuters, said Tehran had “shared some information in relation to one of these measures. The Agency and Iran agreed to continue the dialogue on these practical measures and to meet again in the near future.”

May 29, 2015

Iran provides some information in U.N. nuclear inquiry -IAEA

VIENNA, May 29 (Reuters) – Iran has provided some
information about one of two open items in a U.N. nuclear
watchdog investigation into whether it may have researched an
atomic bomb, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported on
Friday.

The confidential IAEA report, obtained by Reuters, said
Tehran had “shared some information in relation to one of these
measures. The Agency and Iran agreed to continue the dialogue on
these practical measures and to meet again in the near future.”

    • 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"
      Joined Reuters:
      1987
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