Awards for Excellence 2021: Best bank in Austria
Best Bank: Bawag
Prudent risk management, sustainable growth and outstanding efficiency earn Bawag this year’s award for Austria’s best bank. Despite the Covid crisis, the listed lender, which also has banking operations in Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands, managed to post a net profit of €284 million and a return on tangible common equity (ROTCE) of 10% last year despite conservative provisioning. The retail and small and medium-sized enterprise segments were key drivers of the group’s impressive results, delivering a pre-tax profit of €374 million and an ROTCE of 22%.
A continued focus on efficiency limited the group’s cost-to-income ratio to 44.4% even in last year’s adverse market conditions. The merger of Bawag’s Austrian easybank subsidiary and German Südwestbank with the parent group, including the centralization of back-office functions, set the stage for further efficiency gains this year.
As with most lenders, deposit growth outpaced loan portfolio expansion in 2020, but the latter still came in at a healthy 5%. Meanwhile strong fundamentals provided both a defence against further economic upheavals and a solid base for future expansion. Bawag’s common equity tier-1 (CET1) ratio at end-December stood at 14.0% after dividend accruals, while its non-performing loan (NPL) ratio remained unchanged from a year earlier at 2%.
On the digital side, the group under chief executive Anas Abuzaakouk maintained its commitment to open banking and ecosystem development in the awards period, with innovations including fully digital account opening for SMEs under the easybank brand and the launch of new online trading functionality.