Chief Correspondent, Vienna, Vienna
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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.

Jan 29, 2015

Austria’s OMV takes 700 mln euro charge, slashes capex

VIENNA, Jan 29 (Reuters) – Austrian oil and gas company OMV
warned 2015 would be tougher than last year as it cuts
investment plans , reflecting falling oil prices and uncertainty
in Libya.

It marks the latest test for Austria’s biggest company,
which has struggled to present a convincing strategy to
investors amid a management shakeup.

Jan 29, 2015

Raiffeisen reassures on capital position, shares rise

VIENNA, Jan 29 (Reuters) – Raiffeisen Bank International
sees no need for “fire sales” as it shrinks its
balance sheet, its finance chief said on Thursday, seeking to
reassure investors that it has the strength to withstand turmoil
in Russia and other markets.

RBI, which has said losses could exceed 500 million euros
($565 million) in 2014, said late on Wednesday that it was
planning to extend its capital buffer by reducing risk-weighted
assets (RWA) by at least 20 percent.

Jan 18, 2015
via FaithWorld

Austria mulls quitting Saudi-backed KAICIID religious centre in Vienna


(Guests of honour, KAICIID Secretary General Faisal Abdulrahmen bin Muaammar, Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, Abdullah Al Turki, President of the Islamic League, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger, Spanish Foreign Minister Manuel Garcia-Margallo y Marfil and Cardinal Jean-Luis Tauran (L-R) listen, during the opening ceremony of the ‘King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue’ (KAICIID) in Vienna November 26, 2012. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger)

Chancellor Werner Faymann has called for Austria to withdraw from a Saudi-sponsored religious dialogue centre in Vienna that has become embroiled in controversy over Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.

Jan 16, 2015

Austrian banks count cost of eastern troubles

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.

Jan 15, 2015

Polish banks face biggest hit in emerging Europe from Swiss franc surge

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.

Jan 15, 2015

Swiss franc surge hits emerging Europe bank sector

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.

    • 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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