UPDATE 1-Bank Austria CFO sees limited read-across from Erste

Wed Oct 12, 2011 7:41am EDT

Related Topics

* Impact from Hungary set to be "visible but under control"

* Continues to evaluate goodwill

* Erste warned of 2011 loss after writedowns

* UniCredit shares erase losses, gain 1.2 percent (Adds quotes and background)

By Michael Shields

VIENNA, Oct 12 (Reuters) - UniCredit unit Bank Austria sees limited parallels with rival Erste Group Bank , which warned on profit this week after taking big writedowns in Hungary and Romania, its chief financial officer said.

Bank Austria, emerging Europe's leading lender, continues to look at goodwill on its balance sheet, especially for operations in places like Ukraine and Kazakhstan, CFO Francesco Giordano told Reuters on Wednesday on the sidelines on a financial conference.

"This is something we continue to evaluate. For the rest (of countries in the region) I think this should be a specific topic for them," he said when asked about potential parallels to Erste's writedowns.

Erste, the region's second-biggest lender, said on Monday it could lose up to 800 million euros ($1.1 billion) this year and skip its annual dividend after big writedowns in Hungary and Romania and taking hits on its sovereign debt holdings.

"The Hungarian situation which was the other big topic is something that we already disclosed quite recently what our exposure is, which -- by luck rather than anything else -- is a bit more moderate than others so we expect the impact to be visible but very much under control," Giordano said.

Hungary is forcing banks to take losses on foreign-currency loans to consumers who can now repay at below-market rates. Erste faces a 500 million euro loss in Hungary this year and plans to inject up to 600 million euros into its unit there.

Erste cited a slower-than-expected economic recovery in Romania for 700 million euros in writedowns in that country.

"In Romania our presence is smaller and is very old...I think in Romania in particular we have much less of a heavy (presence)," Giordano said.

UniCredit shares reversed losses after his comments and were up 1.2 pecent by 1110 GMT.

Austrian peer Raiffeisen Bank International also plans to inject capital into its Hungarian unit as a result of the controversial law, its CFO said last week.

Raiffeisen said on Monday it still expected a 2011 profit given scant goodwill in Hungary and low exposure to troubled euro zone sovereign debt.

But RBI needs to add around 100 million euros to provisions due to the new Hungarian loan law and faces "an additional significant provisioning need because of the difficult market environment in Hungary", it had said.

Bank Austria is committed to central and eastern Europe but would consider offers for businesses in markets it does not see as essential, regional chief Gianni Franco Papa told a newspaper in a separate interview. ($1 = 0.733 Euros) (Reporting by Michael Shields, Editing by Sylvia Westall and Erica Billingham)

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