RBI sees €130mn bank tax burden

Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) prepares to fork out more than 100 million Euros of extra taxes to the Austrian government this year.The bank – which handles the international operations of Raiffeisenzentralbank (RZB) – said today (Fri) it expected additional taxes of 130 million Euros in 2011 due to the new Austrian bank solidarity levy. The tax – agreed upon by the Social Democrats (SPÖ) and the People’s Party (ÖVP) – came into effect on 1 January 2011.While SPÖ Chancellor Werner Faymann vehemently defended the tax as a “reasonable measure” considering the billions of state aid banks were provided with since the outbreak of the credit crunch, ÖVP Finance Minister Josef Pröll was more hesitant. His party is traditionally affiliated with RZB and conservative industrialists. The heads of all leading banks in Austria criticised the coalition over their decision. Austria-based banks must hand over 0.055 per cent of their annual total assets from this year on, according to the government’s decision.RBI’s 130-million-Euro estimation comes after Bank Austria (BA) said it was bracing itself for an extra burden of 150 million Euros per year. Erste Bank, another main player in the financial sector, announced it was putting 100 million Euros aside.RBI achieved profits before tax of 1.287 million Euros last year. The bank was created based on the network of Raiffeisen International (RI), RZB’s former international businesses operator, last year. RZB back then rubbished claims that the restructuring process was carried out due to financial troubles.RBI acquired a 70 per cent interest in Warsaw-based Polbank for 490 million Euros in February. The Polish institute has around one million clients. Poland is widely regarded as a key future market in Eastern Europe (EE). The European Union (EU) member has weathered the recession comparably well, and analysts expect its economy to grow strongly in the coming years. RBI said Polbank was “a perfect addition” to its subsidiary firm Raiffeisen Poland. Polbank and Raiffeisen Poland have a total of 6,000 staff in 467 branches.Meanwhile, RZB explained it was not interested in snatching up struggling competitor Hypo Group Alpe Adria (HGAA). HGAA was nationalised following immense losses in 2009. RZB added it would not approach Volksbank AG’s (ÖVAG) Volksbank International (VBI) about a takeover or cooperation either.RZB is Austria’s biggest private employer. One in 10 Euros generated in the country can be attributed to the firm and its various investments and business participations.