European Economic Integration and South-East Europe
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European Economic Integration and South-East Europe

Challenges and Prospects

Edited by Klaus Liebscher, Josef Christl, Peter Mooslechner and Doris Ritzberger-Grünwald

With both transition dynamics and the EU integration process having shifted to the south-east of Europe, a region fairly marginalized in the literature, this book fills a gap by taking stock of where South-East Europe’s economies and institutions stood in 2004. The authors evaluate the potential for investment and growth within the South-East European region, including the role of trade and FDI, and discuss the challenges associated with unemployment, poverty and ‘brain drain’. The book also provides insights into the particular monetary and exchange rate policies applied, including cases of ‘euroization’, and finally makes an assessment, against this background, of the European perspective of the countries of South-East Europe.
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Chapter 24: Banking in South-East Europe: the case of the Raiffeisen Group

Heinz Wiedner


24. Banking in South-East Europe: the case of the Raiffeisen Group Heinz Wiedner This chapter describes, first, where the Raiffeisen group operates in the region of South-East Europe, what businesses we run, and what overall approach we have pursued in opening up these markets. Then some general economic and financial indicators for the region are provided. Finally the chapter focuses on banking concentration and market shares in the regional banking sectors. Throughout the region, the Raiffeisen Group has basically adhered to the principle of entering the markets at an early stage. We have typically set up greenfield operations and, in some countries, have later moved on to acquisitions when wanting to expand our portfolio, or when the opportunity came up. Our most recent acquisition in South-East Europe was the Savings Bank of Albania, which we bought at the beginning of 2004. With regard to the question of either using local management and knowhow or bringing in foreign expertise, we do in principle rely on local management. We obviously provide external support, help, coaching and certain tools and instruments that we have available, but it is one of our governing principles to have local management there to run the bank as much as possible. This is because it is still more important to know the environment, to know your local customers than it is to only know Western practices. Obviously, that has to be complemented by group know-how and knowledge of best practice. Finally, we pursue a...

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