April 11, 2014 / 10:16 AM / in 4 years

Another bank threatens to quit Austria over taxes

VIENNA (Reuters) - The head of the Raiffeisen bank in the Austrian province of Upper Austria has threatened to move its headquarters across the border to Germany in a growing row with the government over a bank levy which lenders say is too onerous.

The remarks by Heinrich Schaller, head of Raiffeisen Landesbank Oberoesterreich RLBOp.VI, to a regional newspaper comes after the Czech president said this week that Erste Group (ERST.VI) may move its headquarters to Prague.

“It would be negligent in business management terms if I did not consider moving to be an option,” Schaller told the Oberoesterreichische Nachrichten in an interview printed on Friday, noting its bank levy bill in Germany would fall to around 5 million euros ($6.9 million) from 34 million euros in Austria.

“We are not the only bank that is considering a move abroad,” he added.

Austrian banks have chafed under the government’s campaign to recoup funds that taxpayers provided to help the sector through the financial crisis. A levy on big banks’ assets raises around 640 million euros a year for the state budget.

    Social Democrat Chancellor Werner Faymann said last week he would keep that levy despite a parallel program to set up a fund to enable the winding-down of ailing euro zone banks.

    The chief executive of UniCredit’s (CRDI.MI) Bank Austria has demanded talks with the government over the issue.

    ($1=0.7204 euros)

    Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Greg Mahlich

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