Raiffeisen Lower Austria-Vienna to sell energy firm

VIENNA, April 29 Tue Apr 29, 2014 11:10am EDT

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VIENNA, April 29 (Reuters) - The owner of Raiffeisen Lower Austria-Vienna, one of the six Austrian banks to come under direct supervision of the European Central Bank this year, said on Tuesday that it plans to sell its renewable-energy business to boost its capital.

Klaus Buchleitner, chief executive of Raiffeisen Holding Lower Austria-Vienna, which owns the lender, said the sale of Renergie had "very clear technical capital reasons, because of Basel III", referring to new banking regulations.

"It's a shame," the Austria Press Agency quoted him as saying after the bank presented 2013 results. A spokeswoman for the group confirmed the intention to sell the business.

The group gave no financial details of the hoped-for sale of Renergie, a developer of wind, solar, biogas and hydropower projects in countries including Austria, Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic.

APA quoted Buchleitner as saying Raiffeisen, which had already invested more than 100 million euros ($138 million) in the company, would have to have invested hundreds of millions more to position the firm strategically in the way it wanted.

He said sale talks were expected to conclude this year, without revealing to whom the group was talking.

Raiffeisen Lower Austria-Vienna is the biggest shareholder in Raiffeisen Zentralbank, the unlisted parent of Raiffeisen Bank International.

The group holding company that owns the lender has stakes in hundreds of other firms in the financial services, industrial, media and real-estate sectors worth a total of 31 billion euros. It is slimming its portfolio to simplify its balance sheet.

The bank said its 2013 pretax profit leapt to 125 million euros from 17 million euros a year earlier, thanks mainly to the success of RZB. The group swung to a pretax profit of 180 million euros from a loss of 30 million.

The group said its core capital ratio rose to 13.3 percent by the end of 2013 from 12.0 percent a year earlier, which would translate into a pro-forma value of a 16.7 core tier one capital ratio under Basel III.

It did not break out capital ratios for the lender.

It said the bank and the group had "mastered the first wave of the Basel III requirements very well" and more than fulfilled their capital and liquidity demands. ($1 = 0.7223 euro) (Reporting by Alexandra Schwarz-Goerlich; Writing by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by Dale Hudson)

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