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CEE's best bank 2018: OTP Group

Awards for Excellence 2018

When western European banking groups went on spending sprees in the former communist bloc before the financial crisis, they met little competition from within the region. Few local lenders at the time had either the appetite or the capacity for large-scale cross-border expansion.

The notable exception was OTP Group. The Hungarian national champion began buying banks in neighbouring markets in the 1990s and by 2008 had built an international network covering six countries in southeastern Europe, as well as Ukraine and Russia.

As with other regional groups, this proved a mixed blessing over the following decade. Collapsing real estate markets, widespread deleveraging and economic stagnation created challenging operating conditions across the region, while in its home market OTP faced swingeing fines and taxes from 2010 onwards.

The bursting of Russia’s consumer finance bubble in 2013 also took a toll on the bank, which had positioned itself as a leading player in the segment, while in Ukraine OTP suffered alongside the rest of the banking sector during the economic upheavals that followed the Maidan revolution.

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