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 25: Banking in South-East Europe: the case of Erste Bank

Manfred Wimmer


Manfred Wimmer I would like to react to some of the terms – and their counterparts – used in the other contributions to this section. One of those counterpart pairs is foreign banks versus domestic banks. I do not share that thinking. That is not a category for Erste Bank as a group. We very much like to think about our operations in, presently, Central Europe and Croatia, as domestic banks. These banks of course happen to have a foreign owner in the same way as the majority of our shareholders are non-Austrians. Yet we define markets as our home markets and this is what we mean; we feel at home there and this is where we see our faith and destiny. We are a company listed on the Vienna stock exchange which has a market value at present of roughly EUR 9 billion. If you look at the distribution of this market value, 50 per cent of our market value is represented by our business in the Czech Republic, a further 15 per cent by our business in Slovakia, a further 15 per cent by our businesses in Hungary and Croatia and a mere 20 per cent of our total enterprise value is represented by our business in Austria. Now guess where we feel at home? I do not think that in attitude and perception there is a huge difference between a bank with foreign owners and a bank with domestic owners. If you look at where we allocate...

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