Bankers chase a new golden era in CEE
Record regional bank profits, plus strong capital ratios in Western Europe, have fuelled hope for more bank acquisitions in Central and Eastern Europe. The uncertain effect of recent court rulings on Swiss franc mortgages, however, is a big obstacle to deals in Poland.
Compared to the pre-2008 era, banking in Central and Eastern Europe is now founded more on regulators’ desire for financial-sector stability than wild growth.
But in 2024 there is a confidence in the regional banking sector rarely seen since the mid 2000s, when it seemed like every big bank in Western Europe was buying banks to the east, as far away as Kazakhstan.
Euromoney’s CEE forum, held in the depths of winter in Vienna, has long been a main event in the region’s financial-sector calendar. This year it had record delegate numbers.
Lockdowns were a distant memory, the absence of Russian firms unlamented. Among the LinkedIn posts from bankers visiting Vienna for the conference, one attendee – Francis Malige, head of financial institutions at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development – said it “feels like the thriving days of emerging Europe are back”.
The EBRD, a multilateral lender, has been something of a backstop bank investor in CEE since 2008.