VIENNA Feb 11 Bank Austria will charge more for
lending and cut jobs in Austria to address tough market
conditions, the head of the UniCredit unit told an
Willibald Cernko told WirtschaftsBlatt that emerging
Europe's leading lender would not fill some positions that come
open in Austria and start closing an unspecified number of
branches here next year while tightening credit conditions.
"In all there will be a rise over all loans of between 20
and 60 basis points," he was quoted as saying in an interview
printed on Monday, noting lending margins in Austria were at the
bottom of those in the euro zone.
Cernko had said in October that Bank Austria would gradually
cut the number of branches it has in Austria - then at 360 - as
a way to boost the return on capital in its retail business to
around 10 percent within three or four years.
He told the newspaper risk costs in Austria would rise
marginally but remain very good by European comparisons.
Cernko said there were no more plans at present to combine
operations in central and eastern Europe, as the group had done
in the Czech Republic and Slovakia and in Baltic countries.
He said the group had opened around 50 new branches last
year, primarily in Turkey, and would open a similar number of
branches this year depending on business conditions.
(Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Mike Nesbit)