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Banking

Eva Wisniewska, President, Bank Pekao

Ewa Wisniewska, the new president of Poland's largest bank, has her work cut out for her. On one side of the modern office tower in mid-town Warsaw where she works, there is a large sign that says "Bank Pekao SA"; on the other, the sign says "Grupa (Group) Pekao SA".

The two signs represent the problems she faces in restructuring Bank Pekao Group to prepare for 1999, when Poland throws open its borders to competition from foreign banks.

The group includes Bank Pekao itself, Powszechny Bank Gospodarczy, Bank Depozytowo-Kredytowy and Pomorski Bank Kredytowy, which were merged by force under the previous left-wing government which left office in October.

The merger has been difficult. A truer picture of the group would be presented if the four bank names were displayed on top of the building. The Pekao group, with Zl2.4 billion ($685 million) in capital, controls 20% of the total assets of Poland's banking system and 25% of individual deposits.

Wisniewska, quiet and pensive, says that she wants "to take what is best in each bank" to integrate them. She admits that time is running out quickly and the schedule is tight. She needs to complete preparations for the sell-off of 15% of share capital in the first half of 1998, followed by sale of a further 35% to a strategic investor this autumn.

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