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BANKING

Hungary: OTP seeks Austrian acquisition

Sandor Csanyi, OTP “For new transactions, we must wait to raise more capital”
Sandor Csanyi, OTP

Hungary’s OTP Bank, the only bank in central and eastern Europe to entertain genuine regional ambitions, is turning its attention to Austria as it eyes up the possible purchase of troubled bank Bawag. “We do not know yet if we are interested,” says OTP chief executive Sandor Csanyi. “But we think that our experience could be very useful.” Austrian trade union federation OeGB is selling the bank after it recorded huge losses following murky deals involving its US partner Refco, which collapsed in October 2005. Refco’s creditors are at present trying to locate the US assets of Bawag.

Broad ambitions

Until now, OTP has focused its attentions on central and eastern Europe. The bank owns subsidiaries in Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia, Slovakia and Romania, and it has been on a spending spree in recent months, acquiring operations in Russia, Serbia and Ukraine. The bank is also in negotiations to buy a bank in Montenegro, Csanyi says.

However, Bawag’s price tag might prove too high for OTP, analysts say.

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