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Polish banks make a profit breakthrough

Poland's once-beleaguered banks are posting profit growth for 2004 as high as 400% in some cases. Banks are now hungry to increase market share via acquisitions. But who at the table is prepared to cash in their chips? Julian Evans reports.

Wancer: Celebrating "the best year for banks since the beginning of Poland's economic

Fifth time lucky for PKO

Citi's rare exchangeable pleases the regulator

THE POLISH BANKING sector is a happy place right now. Profits last year have surprised even the bankers themselves. "It was the best year for banks since the beginning of Poland's economic transformation," says Jozef Wancer, CEO of Bank BPH, Poland's fourth-biggest bank.

In the first nine months of 2004, the banking sector made profits of Zl5.7 billion ($1.8 billion) – over a billion zlotys more than in 1997, the previous best year.

Several banks have had record years. The profit of BPH, Bank Austria's subsidiary, grew by 160% year on year in the second quarter, and by 117% in the third. The net profits of BZ-WBK, AIB's Polish bank, grew by 156.3%. ING Bank Slaski's net profits, meanwhile, grew by a phenomenal 400% in the third quarter.

"An exceptionally good year"

Raiffeisen Bank Polska, RZB's subsidiary, enjoyed 131% growth in income, to Zl113.2

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