July 12, 2013 / 8:41 AM / 5 years ago

Raiffeisen Bank Int'l open to strategic partner-CEO

VIENNA, July 12 (Reuters) - Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) is open to the idea of finding a strategic investor to help strengthen its balance sheet, new Chief Executive Karl Sevelda told a magazine.

Analsyts estimate RBI will need to find as much as 1.8 billion euros ($2.35 billion) in the medium term to meet minimum international capital standards.

Asked how RBI would meet its capital requirements, Sevelda told Format in an interview published on Friday that it could raise its equity capital, find a new partner, reduce assets or use retained earnings. He called the retained earnings option “the most sympathetic” approach.

RBI, the second-biggest lender in eastern Europe’s emerging economies, is majority owned by unlisted Raiffeisen Zentralbank , itself controlled by regional banks that are owned by hundreds of local cooperative banks.

“I cannot say if our core shareholder would take part in a capital increase, but RBI has authorisation (from shareholders) for a partner to take part, in a first step by up to 10 percent,” he said.

“And RZB and its owners, the Raiffeisen regional banks, have in principle announced their readiness to have their stake diluted to as much as 51 percent from 78 percent now,” he added.

He gave no clues about what kind of partner he might favour.

Sevelda also signalled willingness to take part in a “bad bank” for nationalised lender Hypo Alpe Adria. The government is exploring ways to set up a bad bank majority owned by private investors so its debts are kept off state books.

“I do not rule that out. I can appreciate the Latin principle of ‘do ut des’ - I give so that you give,” Sevelda said. ($1 = 0.7668 euros) (Reporting by Michael Shields; editing by Tom Pfeiffer)

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