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02.01.2007

BA-CA today celebrates 100th anniversary of Zentralsparkasse

Today, exactly one hundred years ago on 2 January 1907, Zentralsparkasse (Central Savings Bank) of the City of Vienna opened its doors to customers in the old City Hall building in Wipplingerstraße. The "Z", as it soon became commonly known, is one of the three large predecessor institutions of today's Bank Austria Creditanstalt (BA-CA). 881 Viennese citizens opened savings books on that day in the former conference hall of the Vienna City Government, depositing a total of 147,000 crowns (approximately EUR 660,000). The very first savings book was received by the Mayor of Vienna, Dr. Karl Lueger, who despite the many years of resistance from banks and opposition in the City Council had founded the institution in 1905. In May 2007 the History Association of the City of Vienna will be bringing out a publication on the history of Vienna's Central Savings Bank.

"Upon the one hundredth anniversary of the opening of Zentralsparkasse we should not forget that safe opportunities to invest small amounts of savings were few and far between for much of the Vienna population in 1907", said Erich Hampel, CEO of BA-CA. Access to loans was equally problematic for business enterprises and small-scale home builders. Collecting small savings deposits and passing them on in the form of credits were the fundamental tasks of Zentralsparkasse, which thus undertook an important role in the national economy.

Only in the 2nd Republic was the Central Savings Bank entrusted with encouraging the population to start saving again following the confusion and turmoil during and after the war, as well as with acting as financer for the City of Vienna, in addition to its main tasks. This savings mentality which spread throughout the country, not only in Vienna, was one of the fundamental requirements for the high-flying Austrian economy in the years after 1955. This is shown by the number of visitors to the Z on World Savings Day, which was and is the main holiday for the savings banks. In 1955 a total of 8,000 Viennese citizens visited the Z on this day, rising to 700,000 in the 1980s, who deposited over 2 billion schillings (EUR 145 million) into their savings books.

This money was used amongst other things to finance the comprehensive home building programme of the City of Vienna but also to develop infrastructure in many other towns and cities.

Zentralsparkasse was not only the "inventor" of the Sparefroh (a pixie-like figure promoting the bank), but was also a major supporter of fantastic realism and the performing arts in modern Austria.

In the second 50 years of its existence Zentralsparkasse grew to become one of the largest sponsors of cultural and academic activities in Vienna, helping an entire generation of painters to gain international recognition. Arik Brauer, Hubert Aratym, Ernst Fuchs and many others received grants to be able to devote themselves to art on a full-time basis.

Last year BA-CA brought out a commemorative publication entitled "150-year History of Austrian Banks in the Heart of Europe", celebrating a total of 375 years of Austrian banking together with its three predecessor institutions Creditanstalt (founded in 1855), Länderbank (1880) and Zentralsparkasse (1905).

Bank Austria Creditanstalt today
Bank Austria Creditanstalt (BA-CA) is the largest bank in Austria today with total assets of around EUR 160 billion and equity of EUR 8 billion. Within UniCredit Group it is responsible for banking operations in Central and Eastern Europe, where the Group runs the largest international banking network with over 3,000 branches. More than 60,000 staff serve approximately 26 million customers from Bludenz to Vladivostok.

Enquiries: Bank Austria Creditanstalt Press Office
Peter N. Thier, Tel. +43 (0) 50505 52371;
E-Mail: peter.thier@ba-ca.com