Data privacy fine to hit Austrian Post's 2019 profit

VIENNA (Reuters) - Austrian Post said on Tuesday a 18 million euros ($20 million) fine for illegally using marketing data would weigh on its 2019 profit.

The company, which is majority state owned, used customers’ data, such as ages and addresses, to calculate a probability of which political party they might support and sold its findings.

That violated data privacy rules, Austria’s data protection authority said in a separate statement, leading it to impose the fine.

Austrian Post said it planned to appeal the decision.

The group reiterated it expects operating earnings - excluding a provision for the fine - to remain at last year’s level. 2018 earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) were at 211 million euros.

It also said it expected business to remain stable in 2020.

The company said it planned to offer new banking services under a new brand from the second quarter of 2020 after lender BAWAG exits a partnership by the end of this year.

Total investments for setting up the new business will amount to 40 million euros in 2020 and 2021, Austrian Post said. It expects the new unit to contribute to earnings from 2023.

Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Mark Potter