BUDAPEST, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Austrian lender Raiffeisen Bank International’s recent choice not to pull out of Hungary was the right decision, the head of its Hungarian unit was quoted as saying, adding that the lender could return to profit by 2016.
“I believe staying was the right decision,” Raiffeisen Hungary Chief Executive Heinz Wiedner told business news website portfolio.hu in an interview published on Wednesday.
“We are still loss-making, but last year our loss was significantly lower than a year earlier or before.”
Wiedner said a lack of clarity over government plans to help households laden with billions of euros worth of foreign currency debt created uncertainty this year.
He said Hungary’s high bank tax and a general anti-bank atmosphere would keep the central European country an unattractive market for banks in the next few years.
When asked about a recent remark by central bank Governor Gyorgy Matolcsy that four major banks could quit Hungary in the next 6-18 months, Wiedner said this was an unlikely prospect in the near term but could not be ruled out in the long run.
“There may be mergers and some activity in the area but I do no think that banks would pull out within a year,” he was quoted as saying. (Reporting by Gergely Szakacs and Krisztina Than)