VIENNA, Jan 16 (Reuters) – Austrian banks’ longstanding ties
with central and eastern European neighbours provided years of
profits when they moved in quickly after the fall of the Soviet
But Ukraine’s descent into chaos, Russia’s economic crisis,
political turmoil in Hungary and sluggish Romanian growth caught
them out and led to a series of profit warnings, exposing risk
management failings and a culture of hoping for the best.
WARSAW/VIENNA, Jan 15 (Reuters) – Polish lenders may take
the biggest hit in central Europe from the Swiss National Bank’s
sudden move to scrap its cap on the franc on Thursday, after
Hungary forced lenders late last year to convert their mortgages
in francs into forints.
Poland’s stock of Swiss franc-denominated mortgages stood at
about $36 billion at the end of last November – almost 8 percent
of gross domestic product in central Europe’s biggest economy,
according to analysts at Citi.
VIENNA/BUDAPEST (Reuters) – The Swiss central bank’s surprise move to let the franc surge sent shock waves through the banking sector in central and eastern Europe (CEE), where widespread mortgages denominated in francs suddenly became much harder to service.
Analysts said Poland and Hungary looked especially exposed to the currency swing that could boost bad loans and poses a policy headache for governments watching citizens’ purchasing power dwindle.
VIENNA, Dec 23 (Reuters) – Austria has agreed to sell
nationalised bank Hypo Alpe Adria’s Balkans network to private
equity firm Advent and Europe’s development bank for up to 200
million euros ($245 million), as it pushes ahead with winding
down the defunct lender.
The sale, announced by the finance ministry and Advent after
weeks of complex negotiations, is expected to close by the
second quarter of 2015, pending regulatory approval.
WARSAW/VIENNA, Dec 16 (Reuters) – Eastern Europe-focused
Austrian lender Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) is
looking to sell Raiffeisen Polbank, Poland’s No.8 lender by
assets, three market sources told Reuters on Tuesday.
“Raiffeisen’s Polish unit is for sale,” one source with
knowledge of the matter said.
VIENNA, Dec 16 (Reuters) – Austria’s government gave the
finance ministry approval on Tuesday to sue German bank BayernLB
for compensation over the 2009 nationalisation of
lender Hypo Alpe Adria, setting the stage for another legal
battle with Bavaria.
At stake is who pays for an expensive clean-up at Hypo, a
former BayernLB unit that hit the wall after a decade of
unbridled expansion at home and in the Balkans.
VIENNA, Dec 11 (Reuters) – Austria’s highest administrative
court rejected on Thursday Deutsche Telekom unit T-Mobile’s
attempt to nullify an auction of mobile frequencies which
brought the state 2 billion euros ($2.5 billion) in 2013.
Had it ruled differently, the auction would have had to be
repeated, which could have delayed the availability of faster
mobile services in Austria and put a hole in Austrian finances.
Its ruling is now final.
VIENNA/BUCHAREST, Dec 10 (Reuters) – Banca Transilvania
, Romania’s third-biggest bank, said on Wednesday it
will buy part-nationalised Austrian lender Volksbanken AG’s
Romanian business in a deal triggered by
Volksbanken’s radical shrinking cure.
Neither side disclosed financial details of the acquisition
although Banca Transilvania described the price as “reasonable”
for both sides.
FRANKFURT/VIENNA, Dec 5 (Reuters) – European Central Bank
policymaker Ewald Nowotny on Friday backed ECB President Mario
Draghi on steps to revive the euro zone economy with new
stimulus, while Germany firmly maintained its opposition to
buying sovereign bonds.
The support of Nowotny, Austria’s central bank chief, may
prove crucial for Draghi as he seeks to expand the scale of ECB
action next year, most likely including quantitative easing
(QE), the printing money to buy government bonds.
VIENNA (Reuters) – Austria bungled its handling of stricken lender Hypo Alpe Adria [HAABI.UL] and let former owner BayernLB off the hook when nationalizing Hypo in 2009, a panel of experts looking into the affair said on Tuesday.
Under pressure over the mounting costs of winding down Hypo, the government created the five-member panel of financial and legal experts in March.