* Looking to parent to help strengthen balance sheet
* Details still under discussion
* Bank Austria 2012 net profit 423 mln euros after charges
(Recasts with comments from news conference)
VIENNA, March 18 Bank Austria aims to strengthen
its balance sheet this year with the help of parent UniCredit
so it can seize growth opportunities in the region, it
said on Monday.
Talks with the Italian parent firm were still at an early
stage, bank officials said at Bank Austria's annual results news
"The capital strengthening will come from our parent. What
the size of it will be and which instruments we will use is
still under discussion," Chief Executive Willibald Cernko said.
Vienna-based Bank Austria more than doubled net profit in
2012 to 423 million euros ($553 million) despite taking charges
of 423 million euros on the group's sale of ATF Bank in
Kazakhstan and 165 million on goodwill impairments in Ukraine.
UniCredit reported a worse-than-expected fourth-quarter loss
on Friday and said Italy's longest recession in two decades
would hit earnings again this year.
Bank Austria reported a core tier 1 capital ratio of 10.6
percent of risk-weighted assets at the end of 2012, unchanged
from a year earlier.
That was above a 9 percent floor set by the European Banking
Authority thanks to retained earnings, a 2 billion euro capital
increase by UniCredit in 2012, and a fourth year not paying a
The bank is still calculating its capital ratio under new
Basel III standards to be phased in, but finance chief Francesco
Giordano said it would be well above the minimum 7 percent.
"Technically we don't need any capital for Basel III," he
"It is partially our own decision on what we consider to
be... a capital rate which we consider to be acceptable in
agreement with the local regulators. Broadly we expect it to be
somewhere between 9 and 10 percent," he told reporters.
He said current estimates suggested Basel III standards
would have an impact of less than 1 percent on its capital.
UniCredit could help refinance tier 2 capital that expires
this year, he added, or if need be the bank could tap markets
CEO Cernko had said earlier the bank aimed to further reduce
risks, strengthen its capital base and invest the capital in
central and eastern European countries with the strongest
potential for growth.
($1 = 0.7654 euros)
(Reporting by Michael Shields; additional reporting Angelika
Gruber; editing by Mark Potter and Jason Neely)