Chief Correspondent, Vienna, Vienna
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May 24, 2014

Austria pushes Hypo debt bail-in despite Moody’s warning

VIENNA, May 24 (Reuters) – Austria will propose within weeks
draft legislation to make Hypo Alpe Adria’s subordinated
creditors help pay for winding down the nationalised bank
despite ratings agency Moody’s warning about the impact of
imposing haircuts on bondholders.

The legislation will focus on “bailing in” holders of nearly
900 million euros ($1.23 billion) of debt guaranteed by Hypo’s
home province of Carinthia, not the 1 billion euros of debt with
federal guarantees, a finance ministry spokesman said on
Saturday.

May 22, 2014

Raiffeisen beats Q1 profit estimates, to repay aid soon

VIENNA, May 22 (Reuters) – Raiffeisen Bank International
reported first-quarter profit that beat market
expectations, saying its Russian business was “relatively
normal” and it could soon pay back nearly 2 billion euros ($2.73
billion) in state aid.

Shares in the Austrian lender jumped more than 5 percent in
early trade on Thursday, as rising net interest income provided
a positive surprise, while risk provisions rose less than
expected despite a hit from Ukraine.

May 15, 2014

Heads roll as Austrian students tested on Nazi apologist text

VIENNA (Reuters) – Two senior Austrian educators will step down over a scandal in which a test administered to school-leavers featured an essay by a Nazi apologist, the latest in a series of missteps in awarding high school diplomas.

Following a high-profile data leak and a failure to communicate new grading scales, the final straw came when this year’s German test included a 1947 text by German author Manfred Hausmann, who had worked for Nazi propaganda magazine Das Reich.

May 12, 2014

Nowotny says would prefer “package” of ECB measures

VIENNA, May 12 (Reuters) – An interest rate cut alone will
not be enough to deal with persistently low inflation in the
euro zone, ECB policymaker Ewald Nowotny said on Monday as the
central bank gets ready to add more stimulus as soon as June.

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said last week
the ECB is prepared to take action next month to boost the euro
zone economy if its updated staff inflation forecasts merit it.

May 11, 2014

Austria’s Conchita Wurst hails Eurovision victory over intolerance

VIENNA, May 11 (Reuters) – Conchita Wurst came home to a
heroine’s welcome in Austria on Sunday after the bearded drag
queen won the Eurovision Song Contest in what she called a
victory over the forces of intolerance, including Russian leader
Vladimir Putin.

Sporting high heels, a tight dress, butterfly eyelashes and
a full beard, Wurst – whose birth name is Tom Neuwirth – swept
to victory with her “Rise Like a Phoenix” ballad before a global
TV audience of about 180 million people in 45 countries.

Apr 16, 2014

Hypo bank woes poison the mood in Austria

VIENNA, April 16 (Reuters) – Hypo Alpe Adria, the state bank
whose woes will swell Austria’s debt and deficits this year, is
morphing into a national bogeyman for a country fed up with the
lender’s chronic need for support and policymakers’ failure to
resolve the issue.

More than four years after the state’s emergency takeover,
Hypo has moved beyond being Austria’s worst post-war financial
debacle to become a lightning rod for grass-roots criticism of
banks and the government ahead of European elections next month.

Apr 11, 2014

Raiffeisen Zentralbank core tier 1 ratio falls to 9.9 pct

VIENNA, April 11 (Reuters) – Raiffeisen Zentralbank’s
core tier 1 capital ratio fell 1 percentage point to
9.9 percent of risk-weighted assets at the end of 2013 under
local accounting rules as weak eastern European currencies hit
its balance sheet, the Austrian lender said on Friday.

The unlisted parent of Raiffeisen Bank International
– the second-biggest lender in central and eastern
Europe (CEE) – is one of six Austrian banks to come under direct
supervision of the European Central Bank later this year.

Apr 10, 2014

Ukrainian activist claims he was tortured in Crimea

VIENNA (Reuters) – A Ukrainian activist said on Thursday he was abducted and tortured by a pro-Russian faction in Crimea in an 11-day ordeal before he was released in a prisoner swap last month.

Andrei Shchekun spoke to reporters in Vienna on the sidelines of a conference on torture hosted by the Organization for Security and Co-operation’s human rights arm, after being introduced by U.S. ambassador to the OSCE Daniel Baer.

Apr 3, 2014

Volksbanken says it can pass EU health check without more state aid

VIENNA, April 3 (Reuters) – Austrian bank Volksbanken AG
has enough capital to pass a European-wide health
check this year without needing more state aid as it presses
ahead with radical restructuring plan, it said on Thursday.

Getting Volksbanken – which failed a similar test in 2011 -
back onto solid ground would be a relief for Austria’s
government as it grapples with another nationalised bank, Hypo
Alpe Adria [HAABI.UL, whose chronic need for capital will
sharply inflate state debt and the budget deficit this year.

Apr 2, 2014

Austrian president poised for rare Western visit to Iran

VIENNA (Reuters) – Austrian President Heinz Fischer has ‘in principle’ accepted an invitation to visit Iran, his office said on Wednesday, in what would be the first trip for many years by a Western head of state.

Under President Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate who was elected last year, Iran has started to improve relations with the West by engaging with world powers over its disputed nuclear program.

    • 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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