Bank Austria Statement on the Comments of the FPÖ
Bank Austria is astonished by the latest claims by FPÖ chairman Heinz-Christian Strache, as these allegations do not reflect the facts. As the Freedom Party’s parliamentary group is apparently not aware of all of the facts about Bank Austria, the following information is provided in the interests of clarity.
Bank Austria is Austria’s strongest major bank in terms of equity capital and earnings
Bank Austria belongs to the UniCredit Group, which is Europe’s fourth largest banking group with a balance-sheet total of 929 billion euros and did not suffer one single quarter with a negative result, even during the crisis years 2008 and 2009. The same is true for Bank Austria. Furthermore, Bank Austria is Austria’s strongest major bank in terms of earnings and equity capital, with a net profit of 1.1 billion euros in 2009 and a Tier 1 capital ratio of 10.4%.
Hence, Bank Austria is a very healthy company, with an extremely solid, broad-based business model. As a result, it was the only major Austrian bank which did not take advantage of government assistance (i.e. did not resort to using taxpayers’ money), opting instead to reinforce its capital base on its own via the market. Accordingly, the worries of the FPÖ in relation to the City of Vienna’s liability for savings deposits placed with Bank Austria up until 2001 are unfounded.
Independently of this, the Central and Eastern European (CEE) region is and remains the growth market at our doorstep. For example, growth in the CEE this year is forecast to be twice as strong as in Western Europe. Compared to the size of the Group, UniCredit’s risk exposure in these countries is relatively modest. For example, Central and Eastern Europe only accounts for 13 per cent of all loans extended by the UniCredit Group.
Austrian banking secrecy still protects the data of Bank Austria’s customers
Transfer of Bank Austria’s customer data to Verona last summer was conducted in full compliance with the regulations on Austrian banking secrecy and data protection. Customer data are still updated in Austria, and appropriate management of access rights for the data in Vienna and the encryption of such in the computer centre in Verona ensures that no unauthorised persons can obtain or view data. Data transfer occurs via redundant, encrypted high-speed data lines.
In other words, the safe is in Verona. The combination, keys and deciphering codes for it are in Vienna. Access to the data is governed by Austrian law.
Furthermore, with the UGIS in Verona, Bank Austria has one of the most modern, secure computer centres in Europe, which significantly increases safety standards for its customers.
Stable development of staff numbers at UniCredit Bank Austria in Austria
Development of personnel at Bank Austria has been progressing on a very stable trend. Along with the staff employed at subsidiaries of the UniCredit Group, Bank Austria had a workforce of 10,886 employees in 2009, an increase of 147 compared to 2007 (10,739). The 2008 headcount was 10,994 in Austria. We project that the development of staff numbers will remain stable in the future as well, and have no plans for massive cuts in personnel as alleged by the FPÖ today.
Enquiries: Bank Austria Press Office Austria
Martin Halama, Tel. +43 (0)5 05 05 52371