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OTP: predator or prey?

Hungary’s OTP Bank dominates its domestic market, but can it compete with regional powerhouses such as Raiffeisen International and UniCredit, or is it in danger of being swallowed up itself? Kathryn Wells meets OTP’s long-serving chief executive, Sandor Csanyi, to find out.

Sandor Csanyi, OTP
“Our view was that the reasons used to justify selling to strategic investors were not relevant to OTP. We produce enough profit, therefore we do not need the capital”
Sandor Csanyi, OTP

OTP CHIEF EXECUTIVE Sandor Csanyi’s sons are clearly both chips off the old block. When he told them in 1992 that he was leaving his job as deputy CEO of K&H Bank to become head of then state-run player OTP, both were, he recalls, “very ashamed”. This shows pretty impressive business awareness on their part – the boys were just eight and 12 at the time. OTP was indeed then an old-fashioned, badly run state bank, but his sons have less to complain of today. For their father, arguably Hungary’s most powerful man and certainly one of its richest, has led the bank’s revival in fortunes, positioning it as the only leading bank in central Europe to have avoided being sold to a strategic owner, and turning it into the only player domiciled in central and eastern Europe to have genuine regional ambitions.

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