Erste Czech unit to cut staff, costs as competition mounts

PRAGUE, March 8 Fri Mar 8, 2013 7:49am EST

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PRAGUE, March 8 (Reuters) - Erste Group's Czech unit Ceska Sporitelna said it would lay off 600 employees, or 6.5 percent of staff, in the coming months, to help it face up to growing competition and a weak economy.

The Czech Republic's second-biggest bank by total assets saw 2012 net profit rise by 21.8 percent to a record 16.6 billion crowns but it said on Friday it needed to cut costs to withstand fiercer competition and weather the overall economic downturn.

"Since it is not possible to expect a significant turnaround of the economy while competition is getting tougher and the overall banking market is under pressure to cut prices, Ceska Sporitelna is launching a restructuring of its operating and personnel costs," spokeswoman Kristyna Havligerova Dolinek said in an email.

She added the bank would cut over 1 billion crowns' worth ($51.37 million) of personnel and operating costs this year.

The layoffs will take place across the bank, including managerial positions, and will have no impact on the bank's services, she added.

($1 = 19.4676 Czech crowns) (Reporting by Jana Mlcochova; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)

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