Chief Correspondent, Vienna, Vienna
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Mar 5, 2015

BAWAG owner Cerberus sees active role in Europe bank M&A

VIENNA, March 5 (Reuters) – U.S. investor Cerberus Capital
Management will play an active role in European banking
consolidation, it said on Thursday, sending the strongest signal
yet it could soon exit its majority stake in Austrian lender

“In general our philosophy is we are a long-term investor
but, that being said, we are consistently evaluating strategic
alternatives. Certainly as there is European banking
consolidation we see ourselves as a big part of that, Cerberus
in general,” Cerberus executive and BAWAG deputy chairman Keith
Tietjen told Reuters.

Mar 3, 2015

Austrian “bad bank” felled by Balkan trouble, Swiss franc surge

VIENNA, March 3 (Reuters) – Among the “bad banks” that have
emerged since the global crisis, Austria’s Heta Asset Resolution
stands out as a spectacular failure, brought down by setbacks
ranging from the demands of accounting rules to ailing Balkan
economies and a Swiss decision to let the franc surge.

Questions are swirling over how things could have gone so
wrong so quickly at Heta, carved out just last year
from the lender Hypo Alpe Adria whose demise has already caused
Austria’s worst post-war financial scandal.

Mar 2, 2015

Austria warns creditors risk losses on bad-bank wind down

* Watchdog says investors can pay for bad bank in variety of

* Bank bond yields rise as bad bank’s senior bondholders at

* Bad bank faced heavy debt redemptions this week

(Adds market reaction, investor comment, detail, changes
dateline from Vienna)

By Michael Shields and Helene Durand

VIENNA/LONDON, March 2 (Reuters/IFR) – Austria has warned
creditors of defunct lender Hypo Alpe Adria they face losses and
could even see the “bad bank” housing their debts put into
insolvency, after the state refused to plug a 7.6 billion euros
($8.5 billion) capital hole.

Austria’s financial watchdog stepped in on Sunday to take
control of bad bank Heta Asset Resolution and halted
payments on more than 11 billion euros worth of debt after an
audit showed its balance sheet was overvalued.

Feb 27, 2015

Erste Group aims to turn page on eastern Europe woes

VIENNA, Feb 27 (Reuters) – Erste Group Bank is set
to put its problems in central and eastern Europe behind it
after tackling trouble spots Hungary and Romania, emerging
Europe’s third-biggest lender said on Friday.

The Austrian group, whose shares were up 1.8 percent in
early trade, forecast 2015 operating profit would fall short of
the 3.09 billion euros ($3.5 billion) it announced for 2014, but
its CEO Andreas Treichl was upbeat on the mid-term outlook.

Feb 24, 2015

Kazakh dissident Aliyev found hanged in Austrian jail

VIENNA (Reuters) – Rakhat Aliyev, the Kazakh president’s former son-in-law turned political foe, was found hanging in an Austrian jail on Tuesday while awaiting trial for murder, but his lawyers doubted the official explanation that he had killed himself.

Aliyev was accused of murdering two bankers in Kazakhstan in 2007, allegations he said were trumped up by political rivals in his homeland after he fell out with former allies there.

Feb 12, 2015

Bank Austria eyes higher share in emerging Europe markets

VIENNA, Feb 12 (Reuters) – Bank Austria expects to keep
profits steady this year even if it makes less money in Russia,
the central and eastern European (CEE) arm of Italian bank
UniCredit said on Thursday.

It also played down any need for quick action to boost its
10.3 percent core capital ratio, saying its strong earnings
capacity should let it strengthen its balance sheet over time.

Feb 10, 2015

Raiffeisen puts building up capital ahead of dividends

VIENNA, Feb 10 (Reuters) – Raiffeisen Bank International
will put strengthening its capital position ahead of
dividend payouts, it said on Tuesday, as emerging Europe’s
second-biggest lender scales back following decades of expansion
in central and eastern Europe.

The revamp will see the Austrian bank sell operations in
Poland and Slovenia and cut back in Russia in a drive to boost a
key capital target to 12 percent of risk-weighted assets (RWAs)
by the end of 2017 from 10 percent now.

Feb 9, 2015

Raiffeisen to exit Poland, cut back in Russia

VIENNA, Feb 9 (Reuters) – Raiffeisen Bank International
plans to sell operations in Poland and Slovenia and
cut back in Russia in a radical overhaul to help shrink its
balance sheet and hit a core capital ratio of 12 percent by the
end of 2017, it said on Monday.

Burned by hits in Ukraine and Hungary, emerging Europe’s
number two lender also announced a preliminary 2014 loss of 493
million euros ($558 million), lagging the average estimate of
455 million in a Reuters poll of analysts, and said it would not
pay an equity dividend on 2014 results.

Feb 9, 2015

Hungary, EBRD to buy stake in Erste unit – report

BUDAPEST/VIENNA, Feb 9 (Reuters) – The Hungarian government
and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)
will buy a stake in the Hungarian arm of Austrian bank Erste
, business website Portfolio reported on Monday, citing
unidentified sources.

A government spokeswoman declined to comment ahead of a 1500
GMT press conference where Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Erste
Group Bank Chief Executive Andreas Treichl and EBRD President
Suma Chakrabarti will sign a document. No further details were
available. Erste is emerging Europe’s third-largest lender.

Jan 31, 2015

Austrians rue starting fashion for Swiss franc mortgages

VIENNA (Reuters) – The surging Swiss franc has dealt a double blow to homeowners in Austria, home of the trend for borrowing in the Swiss currency that has devastated mortgage holders across eastern Europe.

In the early 1990s, people living in the west of the country who crossed into Switzerland to work were lured by the ultra low interest rates offered in the safe-haven currency.

    • 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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