VIENNA, Aug 18 (Reuters) - Raiffeisen Bank International’s Ukraine business is operating “relatively without complaint”, Chairman Walter Rothensteiner told the WirtschaftsBlatt newspaper, using the same language as in June to describe the situation.
Rothensteiner also held out hope that RBI, emerging Europe’s third-biggest lender, could avoid losses this year despite a tough economic environment and a drain on earnings from the special bank taxes it pays in some countries.
“We have not had an annual loss yet at RBI and I hope that will not be the case this year as well,” he was quoted as saying in an interview printed on Monday.
He said no one foresaw the situation in Ukraine, which is locked in a confrontation with Russia over an armed separatist movement the pro-Western government in Kiev is trying to crush.
“On the other hand the other eastern markets are developing very positively. The mix of 15 different central and eastern European countries in which RBI is active leads to a certain balancing,” he said, although markets would continue to punish banks as long as such political uncertainty prevailed.
RBI is a top 10 bank in Russia as well.
In its first-quarter results presentation, RBI called itself Ukraine’s fifth-biggest bank by lending with a 3 billion euro ($4 billion) loan book and three million clients. It put plans to sell the Ukraine unit on ice amid the turmoil there. (1 US dollar = 0.7468 euro) (Reporting by Michael Shields; editing by David Clarke)