Erste Bank doubles supervisory board wages

Decision-makers at Austria’s biggest bank have been accused of acting greedily by sharply raising supervisory board members’ salaries.The Erste Group Bank AG (Erste Bank) board announced today (Thurs) that each member of the financial institute’s supervisory board will receive 700,000 Euros for its achievements last year, up from half the amount in 2009 when the sector was plagued by the effects of the credit crunch.A group of small investors harshly criticised the decision, claiming that “greed is back as the crisis is over.”Erste Bank CEO Andreas Treichl defended the move, arguing that being part of a supervisory panel meant more responsibility these days than ever before.Treichl was paid 2.79 million Euros of regular income and bonuses in 2010, nearly twice what he had received in 2009.Asked by a shareholder at the bank’s annual general meeting in Vienna whether he could imagine applying for another term, Treichl revealed he was interested in doing so when his contract expires next year. Treichl became head of Erste Bank in 1997.Erste Bank is one of the most powerful Austrian brands. It is a top player in the sector alongside Raiffeisenzentralbank (RZB) and Bank Austria (BA).Treichl recently rejected claims that the economy in Eastern Europe (EE) – where Erste Bank has been engaged for years – was at risk to experience another setback after the most recent crisis which started in 2008.”I don’t think there will be a second ‘crisis wave’  in Eastern Europe,” he said, adding that he was more concerned about developments in the Eurozone, the 17 European Union (EU) members which use the Euro as their sole currency.The businessman explained that federal governments in EE had introduced more stringent cost-cutting measures much earlier on to react to economic difficulties than states in Western Europe.Erste Bank’s decision to double wages of its supervisory board comes on the heels of revelations that members of the executive boards of the 20 Austrian companies quoted on the Vienna Stock Exchange (WBAG) raked in around 20 per cent more in 2010 than the year before.The Labour Chamber (AK) pointed out that the state’s WBAG-listed businesses slashed their workforce by 4,000 overall at the same time after 20,000 people lost their jobs in 2009.