ÖVAG manages turnaround

Volksbank AG (ÖVAG) boss Gerald Wenzel has said his bank has achieved a turnaround after some difficult years.ÖVAG suffered losses of 1.123 billion Euros after taxes last year. Wenzel announced today (Mon) the institute achieved a net turnover of 56.6 million Euros in the first nine months of this year.Wenzel said he expected ÖVAG to achieve a “profit into the tens of millions” this year.Figures presented by the ÖVAG head today also show that ÖVAG’s equity ratio reached 9.7 per cent.Wenzel refused to reveal whether the bank has already decided to sell its subsidiary VBI (Volksbank International) which handles its operations in Eastern Europe (EE).Recent reports had it that ÖVAG will get rid of VBI, which has around 5,400 employees, to focus on its core activities in a bid to improve its performance. Analysts expect its supervisory board to decide on the issue next month.ÖVAG was not among the 91 European banks which underwent a so-called stress test earlier this year to find out how badly they would be affected by another global crisis. Some business experts criticised that just the continent’s biggest institutes’ equity ratios were checked, while struggling and smaller banks were left out.Wenzel vehemently dismissed speculations that ÖVAG faces nationalisation in May. However he said at that time that the bank’s “search for a strong partner” was continuing. The ÖVAG CEO denied to reveal whether there has been any progress in doing so. BAWAG, fourth-biggest bank, has been rumoured to be a possible candidate.Hypo Group Alpe Adria (HGAA) and Kommunalkredit had to be taken over by the Republic of Austria to avoid collapses of the two institutes last year.