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Hypovereinsbank/Bank Austria: critical mass

Some banks are looking beyond central and eastern Europe’s emerging economies for ways to gain scale.

Hypovereinsbank: raised its profile
in buying Bank Austria

With market share at a premium in central and eastern Europe's emerging economies, some banks are looking farther afield for ways to gain scale. Take Germany's Hypovereinsbank, which in 2000 boosted its regional profile with the purchase of an Austrian bank.

In acquiring Vienna-based Bank Austria/Creditanstalt for e8 billion, Hypovereinsbank not only captured a considerable chunk of the banking market in an EU neighbour. It also reshaped the competitive landscape in five more countries to the east.

"The fact that they have merged has presented us with a major new competitive threat," says the Warsaw-based CEO of a western-owned Polish bank. "We were bigger than either of them prior to the merger. Now we are looking up at them. It shows just how sensitive Poland is to events in other markets."

It's a lament common among senior executives at banks across the region in the wake of a tie-up that, when it is completed later this year, will give the merged mega-bank some e21 billion in local assets.

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