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Banking

Raiffeisen: Sevelda's struggle

Raiffeisen insiders insist the bank’s current woes stem from circumstances beyond its control. Outsiders say the business is now paying for the sins of the past. A new leadership is desperately trying to reposition a bank whose most important markets are in turmoil, and whose ownership structure leaves it with unique capital challenges. CEO Karl Sevelda has a mountain to climb.

Sevelda illus-300

Two years ago, Raiffeisen looked in good shape for a bank with most of its operations in central and eastern Europe. Under the charismatic leadership of Herbert Stepic, the man who transformed the bank from an Austrian also-ran into a regional giant with operations in 15 ex-communist countries, it had weathered the financial and eurozone crises without loss, was posting healthy profits and paying handsome dividends, and had just doubled its exposure to CEE’s most promising market, Poland, by the acquisition of Polbank EFG.

Those days now seem very far away.

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