Raiffeisen (RZB) takes over Albanian BK

TIRANA, December 19 2003 – Raiffeisen Zentralbank Österreich AG (RZB) won the tender for taking over “Banka e Kursimeve e Shqipërisë” (BK), the Savings Bank of Albania; subject to approval by the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Albania. The price offered was USD 95 million for a 100 per cent share in BK, which represents a 2.5 multiple of the book value. RZB will also provide USD 31 million by payment-in-kind, resulting in a total value of its offer of USD 126 million.

“RZB’s take-over creates a win-win situation for all parties involved: The Savings Bank of Albania will benefit from RZB’s strength and know-how, and the bank’s customers will appreciate the extended product range and the enhanced opportunities by their bank’s integration into an international banking group. Whereas RZB and its clients will profit from the extension of RZB’s dense banking network in Central and Eastern Europe to Albania. The Savings Bank of Albania is an ideal complement to our banking network”, said Herbert Stepic, Deputy Chairman of RZB’s Managing Board with responsibility for RZB’s international banking network.

BK is highly profitable and enjoys dominant market shares

BK runs the largest branch network in the country with 92 outlets and about 1,000 employees. Its balance-sheet total was USD 1.37 billion at year-end 2002 and its net profit amounted to USD 15.5 million in 2002, which resulted in a Return on Equity of 41.7 per cent and a Return on Assets of 1.1 per cent. BK has a 56 per cent market share in the banking sector’s assets and a 63 per cent market share in deposits. “The Savings Bank of Albania shows impressive market shares, especially in the retail segment. We will also target corporate customers as well as small and medium sized enterprises and plan to achieve significant market shares in these customer segments too”, says Stepic.

Ample room for growth in Albania

Furthermore there is an enormous growth potential, as Albania is an underbanked market, where loans amount to only six percent of GDP (2002 – this compares with e.g. a 111 per cent in Austria). RZB also plans to broaden BK’s product range quickly, offering loans, overdrafts, cards and mortgages to retail customers. Corporate customers as well as small and medium-sized enterprises will soon enjoy products tailored for the needs. RZB will also provide infrastructure finance, trade finance and large syndicated loans.

RZB has a long-term commitment to the region

RZB is a leading bank in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and strongly committed to this region, where it founded its first banking subsidiary already in 1986. Since then it has created a comprehensive CEE banking network, covering 15 markets with 14 banks, two representative offices and dozens of specialized subsidiaries such as leasing companies, pension funds, investment banks, brokers, building societies, factoring houses and real-estate developers … RZB is already very active in Albania’s South Eastern European neighbourhood, operating banks in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria as well as just across Albania’s borders in Serbia and Montenegro and in the Kosovo. RZB has reached strong positions in these markets with significant market shares.

Albania’s economy is catching up quickly

Albania is one of the fastest growing economies in Europe. Its GDP per capita increased eightfold in the last decade to about USD 1,373 (2002) or USD 3,600 in purchasing power parities. It enjoyed an average annual growth of eight per cent in the last five years, a stable FX rate and a low inflation of 2.1 per cent (2002).”This is the right time to step in and provide liquidity to the fast growing economy of the country”, says Stepic, adding that RZB has both the expertise and experience necessary to do this for the benefit of all parties.

RZB is a creator of top jobs

Mr. Stepic also underlined the importance of market privatization and internationalization as preparatory steps for an improved integration in the European and global markets. “These steps strengthen the competitiveness of the economy. As the presence of international banks builds trust, RZB will serve as a gateway for foreign direct investors. Moreover, strategic investors are usually creators of employment. This applies especially to Raiffeisen”, explains Stepic. RZB has created more than 10,000 jobs in its Central and Eastern European banking network in the last decade.

RZB is the central institution of the Austrian Raiffeisen Banking Group, the country’s most powerful banking group. RZB also considers Central and Eastern Europe as its home market and operates a network of 14 subsidiary banks with more than 700 banking outlets, as well as two representative offices, in 15 markets of the region (or 15 banks, more than 800 outlets in 16 CEE markets including BK and Albania). In September 2003, The Banker, the renowned magazine of the Financial Times group, has awarded the prestigious prize “Bank of the Year 2003” to RZB in Austria and its network banks in Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro and Slovakia (whereas BK was The Banker’s choice for Albania). RZB Group’s balance-sheet total amounted to 56 billion Euros (Q3/2003) and its pre-tax profit to 258 million Euros (Q1-3/2003). It employs a staff of about 21,600 world-wide.