Volksbank boss rules out nationalisation over 2009 losses

Volksbank bosses have denied reports the bank faces nationalisation as losses soared dramatically last year.Volksbank AG (ÖVAG) chief Gerald Wenzel said the search for a strategic partner was ongoing in the bank’s bid to pay back the millions of state aid it received over the past few months to get through the economic crisis.Wenzel refused to comment on reports that cooperation with BAWAG PSK has already been agreed.Wenzel, who took over at Austria’s fourth-largest bank one year ago, said Volksbank suffered losses of 1.123 billion Euros after taxes in 2009.Carinthia’s Hypo Group Alpe Adria (HGAA) had to be nationalised to avoid the bank going bust last December as annual losses of 1.6 billion Euros loomed.Wenzel however dismissed claims he was considering such a move. “Putting the bank into the hands of the state is not the plan. We want to pay back taxpayers what we were supported with,” he said.Volksbank suffered losses of 210.9 million Euros in 2008.Wenzel said yesterday he expected a return to the black this year.The bank chief said a sale of the institute’s subsidies Investkredit and Europolis could not be ruled out, but stressed he had no plans to get rid of Volksbank International (VBI) since this department was “an essential part of our core business”.