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 Austrian newspaper.
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)