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14.11.2007

Results for the first nine months of 2007 (1):
Bank Austria Creditanstalt Group achieves strong profit growth

  • Profit after tax and minority interests up by 73 per cent to EUR 1.8 billion despite turbulence in financial markets
  • Profitability improved: cost/income ratio declines from 57.3 per cent1 to 50.3 per cent
  • CEE business continues to drive growth and contributes 47 per cent to the bank’s profit before tax
  • Following turnaround in retail banking, results in Austria are further improving 

Bank Austria Creditanstalt (BA-CA), a member of UniCredit Group, one of the leading European banking groups, achieved a significant improvement in its results in the first nine months of 2007 compared with the same period of the previous year, despite the turbulence in financial markets. Consolidated profit (profit after tax and minority interests) rose by 72.5 per cent to EUR 1.8 billion (pro-forma figure1 for the first nine months of 2006: EUR 1,015 million). Even in the particularly difficult market environment experienced in August and September, BA-CA's consolidated profit for the third quarter of 2007 increased significantly, by 65.1 per cent to EUR 543 million compared with the previous year (third quarter of 2006: EUR 329 million).

The cost/income ratio improved from 57.3 per cent1 to 50.3 per cent. BA-CA considerably enhanced its operating performance compared with the previous year. Contributions to this improvement came from the Central Eastern Europe (CEE) business segment and from the business segments in Austria, with CEE and Austria each accounting for about one-half of the operating profit totalling EUR 2.4 billion.

BA-CA's CEO Erich Hampel: "I am proud of our performance. Despite the difficult environment in financial and credit markets, we achieved a significant improvement in our results for the first nine months and for the third quarter compared with the respective periods of the previous year. This shows that we have a well-balanced business model with sustained profitability, and we benefit from cooperation within UniCredit Group, a leading European banking group. Growth continues to be driven by the CEE region, and we have further improved our earnings power in Central and Eastern Europe and in our Austrian business." 

Items in the income statement2
BA-CA's net interest income rose by 16.6 per cent to EUR 2,857 million in the first nine months of 2007 (2006: EUR 2,451 million). Net fee and commission income increased by 18.4 per cent to EUR 1,574 million compared with the same period of the previous year (2006: EUR 1,330 million). Worldwide market turbulence, combined with a reassessment of risks and a lack of liquidity in various market segments, had an impact on net trading income, which was EUR 180 million, down by 54.5 per cent from the exceptionally strong performance in the previous year (2006: EUR 394 million). Operating expenses declined by 2.2 per cent to EUR 2,405 million (2006: EUR 2,460 million). Adjusted for the release of EUR 150 million from the provision for the "ASVG equivalent" following changes in Austrian social security regulations, operating expenses rose slightly, by 3.8 per cent to EUR 2,555 million.

Overall, BA-CA improved its operating profit to EUR 2,377 million, an increase of 29.8 per cent over the previous year (2006: EUR 1,832 million). Net writedowns of loans and provisions for guarantees and commitments were EUR 355 million, down by 16.6 per cent from the figure for the same period of the previous year (2006: EUR 426 million). Net income from investments rose strongly, reaching EUR 219 million (2006: EUR 32 million); the increase is mainly due to the EUR 165 million share in current profits of Bank BPH included in this item for the first time.3

Profit before tax amounted to EUR 2,180 million, an increase of 55.5 per cent over the previous year (2006: EUR 1,402 million). Consolidated profit rose by 72.5 per cent to EUR 1,751 million for the first nine months of 2007 (2006: EUR 1,015 million).
 
The following key financial data have been calculated on the basis of this improvement in results:4

  • Return on equity before tax is 21.2 per cent.
  • Return on equity after tax is 17.9 per cent.
  • The cost/income ratio improved to 50.3 per cent.
  • The risk/earnings ratio improved from 19.5 per cent to 12.4 per cent.
  • The Tier 1 capital ratio is 9.9 per cent, the total capital ratio is 12.96 per cent.

Results of the Divisions5
BA-CA reports its results in five Divisions: Retail, Private Banking & Asset Management, Corporates, Markets & Investment Banking, and Central Eastern Europe (CEE). The bank also shows results for its Corporate Center.

The Retail Division continued to make good progress in the third quarter of 2007, impressively confirming the sustained turnaround: while the Division recorded a loss before tax of EUR 95 million in the first nine months of 2006, it generated a profit before tax of EUR 117 million in the first nine months of 2007. On this basis, return on equity before tax reached 15.3 per cent (2006: –10.7 per cent) and the cost/income ratio improved to 72.3 per cent (2006: 84.2 per cent).

In the lending business, given the currently favourable CHF/EUR exchange rate, the Division provided customers who hold foreign-currency loans with specific information on the various options available to them – from hedging to switching. In the area of investments, the focus was on new issues of additional guarantee products. The Weltaktienindex-GarantieAnleihe and Öko-Garantie products alone attracted investments totalling almost EUR 300 million. New savings deposits made through BA-CA's KapitalSparbuch savings products, for which BA-CA has been offering the best interest rates of all universal banks in Austria since spring 2007, totalled EUR 2.1 billion in the third quarter.
 
The Private Banking & Asset Management Division achieved a profit before tax of EUR 64 million in the first nine months of 2007, an increase of 23 per cent over the previous year (2006: EUR 52 million). Return on equity before tax was 43.7 per cent (2006: 42.9 per cent), the cost/income ratio improved to 54.3 per cent (2006: 58.1 per cent).

Profit before tax generated by the Corporates Division rose by 14.9 per cent to EUR 466 million (2006: EUR 406 million). Return on equity before tax was 27.4 per cent (2006: 22 per cent). The cost/income ratio declined to 34.7 per cent (2006: 41.9 per cent). Corporate customers benefit very strongly from UniCredit Group, the larger network and international know-how sharing within a leading European banking group.

In summer 2007, BA-CA took over 100% of FactorBank (Raiffeisen 38 per cent, Oberbank 10 per cent). In pursuing its growth strategy, FactorBank can build on UniCredit Group’s Europe-wide expertise in factoring business.

UniCredit Group has bundled the leasing business of the entire Group in UniCredit Global Leasing. BA-CA transferred its subsidiary BA-CA Leasing to UniCredit Global Leasing and now holds a 32.59 per cent interest in UniCredit Global Leasing. BA-CA Management Board member Regina Prehofer has Group-wide responsibility for the worldwide business of UniCredit Global Leasing, the number 1 in Europe.

Markets & Investment Banking generated a profit before tax of EUR 198 million, which was 3.8 per cent below the previous year’s level (2006: EUR 206 million). Return on equity before tax amounted to 28.9 per cent (2006: 88.9 per cent). The cost/income ratio was 44 per cent (2006: 36.4 per cent).

Despite the crisis in international financial markets, the Markets & Investment Banking business segment met its seasonal budget figures. Operating profit for the first nine months of 2007 was EUR 196 m, more or less matching the previous year’s level (2006: EUR 197 million).
 
The growth of total revenues more or less offset the increase in operating expenses, most of which related to consolidation effects and integration activities such as the recently completed bundling of the network of CA IB Corporate Finance under CA IB International Markets, the company which is now responsible for Institutional Equity Business, Research, M&A Advisory, Equity Capital Markets and Merchant Banking. ATON, the recently acquired broker house in Russia, was also allocated as a subsidiary to that company. CA IB International Markets AG will be renamed “UniCredit CAIB AG” within the next few weeks.

The wide range of business activities again proved to be a successful strategy in turbulent conditions. The good overall performance in a difficult environment was due to the diversification of trading activities – by market segment and region – and to the large proportion of customer-driven business. A strong trading performance in the fixed income, foreign exchange and equities sectors contributed to the stable trend in results. Valuation losses resulting from the market turbulence were thus offset by other areas.

The CEE business segment continued its dynamic growth in the third quarter, with profit before tax improving by 77.4 per cent to EUR 1,027 million (2006: EUR 579 million), an increase which resulted from revenue growth and partly also from changes in perimeter. Return on equity before tax was 19.7 per cent (2006: 20.9 per cent). The cost/income ratio improved to 49.8 per cent (2006: 51.6 per cent).

Bank Austria Creditanstalt is responsible for UniCredit Group's CEE business (except Poland's Markets). BA-CA acts as a hub based in Vienna, managing by far the largest banking network in the region of Central and Eastern Europe.

Following various acquisitions in the past, the focus is now on completely integrating the banking subsidiaries and pursuing further organic growth in the region: over the next three years, about 950 new branches are planned to be opened in CEE. The rebranding process to introduce the UniCredit master brand in CEE is almost complete; in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Russia, the rebranding is planned to take place in February 2008. With the recently completed merger in the Czech Republic, Živnostenská banka and HVB Czech Republic have been integrated to form the new UniCredit Bank, the fourth-largest bank in the Czech Republic.
The new bank is already operating on Eurosig, the new IT platform which is to be rolled out across the Group. The closing of the acquisition of ATF Bank in Kazakhstan, by which BA-CA makes an important strategic move expanding into the world's ninth-largest country, will take place very soon. The closing of another important strategic acquisition, that of Ukrsotsbank in Ukraine, is expected to take place in January.  

BA-CA's CEO Erich Hampel: "In CEE we have the most extensive network and the longest experience of all international banks. Our customers also appreciate the international expertise and network of UniCredit Group, one of the leading European banking groups. These assets and the successful integration of newly acquired banking subsidiaries are important factors in the further improvment of results in the current year and they are the basis for a sustained positive development in the future."

The Corporate Center of BA-CA recorded a profit before tax of EUR 308 million (2006: EUR 707 million); a large part of this profit before tax resulted from the share of EUR 165 million in the current profits of Bank BPH – a former BA-CA banking subsidiary which was sold to UniCredit in 2006 – which is included for the first time. The high level of net income from investments in the previous year reflected a capital gain of EUR 684.3 million on the sale of HVB Splitska banka.

Balance sheet6
BA-CA's total assets grew by 27 per cent to EUR 195.6 billion compared with year-end 2006 (31 December 2006: EUR 154.3 billion. On the assets side, financial assets held for trading increased by 2.8 per cent to EUR 17.1 billion (2006: EUR 16.7 billion). Loans and receivables with banks were EUR 37.4 billion, up by 15.2 per cent (2006: EUR 32.5 billion). Loans and receivables with customers increased by 33.3 per cent to EUR 106.7 billion (2006: EUR 80.1 billion).

On the liabilities side, deposits from banks rose by 4.6 per cent to EUR 50.5 billion (2006: EUR 48.3 billion). Deposits from customers increased by 58.2 per cent to EUR 87 billion (2006: EUR 55.0 billion). Debt certificates including bonds declined by 1.7 per cent to EUR 24.9 billion (2006: EUR 25.3 billion). Equity (including minority interests) rose by 45.9 per cent to EUR 14.8 billion (2006: EUR 10.1 billion).

As at 30 September 2007, BA-CA had 48,678 employees (FTE), 27,591 more than in the previous year (31 December 2006: 21,087 employees) and 467 more than on a pro-forma basis as at 31 December 2006. In the same period, the number of branches increased by 606 to 2,176 (2006: 1,570). This increase was due to the transfer to BA-CA of banking subsidiaries of UniCredit and HVB in CEE. On a pro-forma basis, the number of branches rose by 22.

1   The group of consolidated companies of BA-CA has significantly widened as a result of the bundling of all CEE banks (except Poland’s Markets) in UniCredit Group’s CEE Division, which is managed out of Vienna. To make
BA-CA’s results for the first nine months of 2007 comparable with the same period of the previous year, the figures for the first nine months of 2006 have been recalculated on a pro-forma basis reflecting the new structure of BA-CA.
2   The income statement figures are pro-forma figures.
3   When BA-CA’s Polish banking subsidiary Bank BPH was sold to UniCredit in November 2006, it was agreed that BA-CA would receive a share of Bank BPH’s current profits for three years.
4   The calculation of the key financial data for 2006 is based on actual figures as published.
5   Based on data availability, the business segment data are actual figures.
6    Based on data availability, the balance sheet data are actual figures.

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Enquiries:  Bank Austria Creditanstalt Press Relations Austria
Martin Halama, tel. +43 (0) 50505 52371, e-mail: martin.halama@ba-ca.com