Raiffeisen sees small stakes for financial investors
VIENNA Aug 17 (Reuters) - Austria's Raiffeisen Bank International expects financial investors to play a small part in helping the bank meet its capital requirements, its chief executive said in a newspaper interview.
Karl Sevelda did not repeat recent statements that he was seeking a partner, perhaps a Middle Eastern wealth fund, to boost the bank's balance sheet and help it pay back 2.5 billion euros ($3.3 billion) of state and other aid by 2017.
"There are several possibilities, from a capital increase to small stakes for financial investors to retained earnings - or a combination of all of these," he told Austria's Kronen Zeitung in an interview published on Saturday.
Sevelda, who took over as chief executive from Herbert Stepic in June, had previously mooted the idea of acquiring a large investor - an idea unpopular with the unlisted Raiffeisen Zentralbank that owns 78 percent of RBI.
Sevelda said he intended to maintain Stepic's focus on central and eastern Europe, where RBI is a leading bank, but would concentrate on fewer countries: Russia, the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Austria.
He reiterated that RBI had now made a net loss over its time in Hungary, where the government is again considering measures to help households struggling to pay foreign-currency mortgages that are likely to be at the expense of lenders.
The head of Raiffeisen's Hungarian unit said last month that banks in Hungary were in a critical state and could not afford losses from a new scheme to aid borrowers, after previous measures cost lenders over a billion euros.
"It would be a ghastly thing if foreign banks were no longer wanted there," Sevelda said. "But that would be a big step backwards for Hungary - and also not in the spirit of the European Union." ($1 = 0.7500 euros) (Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Susan Fenton)
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