"What presents itself today as one of the 100 largest banks in the worldand a successful institution with approximately 58,000 staff is theresult of the work put in by generations of employees and managers",said RZB''s Chief Executive Officer Walter Rothensteiner."We owe thesecolleagues a debt of gratitude for their tireless and fruitful work,gratitude that I would like to express here."
Raiffeisen Zentralbank Osterreich AG (RZB) is holding no celebrations tomark the 80th anniversary of its foundation. Instead it has decided todonate 80,000 euros to charity, including the Helga Treichl Hospice ofthe Austrian Red Cross (http://www.roteskreuz.at/23.html)and the Mobile Hospice of Caritas Wien (http://www.caritas-wien.at/88.htm)and to Austrian Doctors for Disabled, an initiative supporting disabledpersons in Bosnia and Herzegovina (http://www.doctorsfordisabled.at/).
Excellent foundations for the future
RZB is Austria''s calling card on the international financial markets. Itis the only bank in the country to have a global branch network. What ismore, in recent years it has recorded the most dynamic growth of allAustrian commercial banks. Boasting total assets of 116 billion euros(as of 31 December 2006) it is the largest Austrian-owned bank and isalso ranked among the 100 largest banks in the world.
With the close of fiscal year 2006, RZB completed its seventh recordyear in a row. Total assets have doubled in the last three years, andrisen by roughly 160 percent in the last five years. (You find a charton the development of total assets at the following link:http://www.rzbfiles.at/bilanzsummeseit1988.pdf)
The number of staff has more than quadrupled in the last five years.Strong business in Austria was one of the main driving factors in theseachievements, but also the consistent development of business at thesubsidiary Raiffeisen International Bank-Holding AG, whose total assetshave risen four-fold in the last four years and whose record IPO in 2005constituted a significant milestone in the history of RZB.
"Of course, we cannot grow by 30 or 40 percent every year. There are twomajor limiting factors: One is our ability to control our growth, theother is the equity that underlies it. But we are working vigorously onensuring continued development. For example, the planned growth for thisyear is about the same as RZB''s balance-sheet total in 1999", explainedRothensteiner."Yet growth is not a dogma, it is not an end in itself,it is a way to achieve strategic goals. Our long-term vision is: RZB isthe leading banking group in Austria and in Central and Eastern Europe."
From a geographical perspective, Rothensteiner believes the greatestgrowth opportunities are to be found in the CIS and in SoutheasternEurope, where business with retail customers in particular promises thehighest rates of expansion. But business in Austria is also evolvingextremely well, and according to Rothensteiner"accounted for almostone-third of pre-tax earnings in 2006. Austria is the sound footing onwhich we built up our company. In commercial banking business we arefirmly anchored in our Top-1,000 customer group and constantly welcomenew clients. This is the logical result of our fundamental approachwhich focuses on the client."
Foundation on 16 August 1927
On 16 August 1927, the inaugural assembly of shareholders inGirozentrale der Osterreichischen Genossenschaften– today''s RZB – was held. This created the leading institution of the Raiffeisen Banking Group, which today is very successful in representing the Group in Austria and abroad as well as in coordinating Group operations. It was founded approximately four decades afterthe establishment of the first Austrian Savings and Loan Association based on the system of Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen.
Founded primarily as a clearing centre for the Raiffeisen Banking Group,in the first decade following its establishment RZB significantlyexpanded both its lines of business– foreign currency and exchange transactions, loans to companies, collecting deposits and investing in securities – and the number of its staff (up to 85).
In 1938, the day after Austria was annexed by the German Reich, RZB wastaken over by a temporary director and then subsequently nationalised.Only in 1955 did the bank return into the ownership of its pre-warshareholders. Today, the Regional Raiffeisen Banks are the coreshareholders of RZB with holdings of 88 percent.
Developments in the 1950s
In the 1950s, RZB began to build up and expand its foreign business.This step was well reflected in the growth of the bank as well, which by1957 employed a staff of almost 200. Towards the end of the 1950s, thebank began to set up or acquire interests in specialised companies.Through cooperation within the Raiffeisen Banking Group, RZB enabled anyindividual Raiffeisen Bank to offer clients a universal range ofproducts and services. The foundation of Raiffeisen Building Society,Raiffeisen Insurance, Raiffeisen Leasing as well as other specialisedcompanies only served to broaden the product portfolio of the RaiffeisenBanking Group further.
Launch of Eastern European expansion in 1980s
In addition to its position as one of the main commercial and investmentbanks in Austria, RZB began constructing another major pillar as earlyas the 1980s, founding what is known today as Raiffeisen Bank inBudapest in 1986. This early strategic decision to set foot in Centraland Eastern Europe (CEE) was a pioneering move in the company''s history.From 1989, with the collapse of all the Communist regimes, RZB set offfull steam ahead through CEE and, initially by founding banks, itdeveloped a stable and organic network that was later, starting in 2000,expanded and strengthened by acquisitions.
Today, RZB considers CEE just as much its home market as Austria.Through Raiffeisen International Bank-Holding AG, which RZB has a 70interest in with the rest of the shares in free float, it now operatesone of the largest banking networks in CEE. 18 markets in the growthregion of Europe are covered through subsidiary banks, leasing firms,two representative offices and a number of other financial servicesproviders, with around 12.7 million customers served in more than 2,950branches.
Integral component of the Raiffeisen Banking Group
As the central institution of the Raiffeisen Banking Group, RZB remainsan integral component of the largest and most important banking sectorin Austria. It not only accounts for more than half of the consolidatedbalance of the banking group, but it also sees itself as a financialservices provider and partner with a wide array of coordination tasks,in the fields of product development or brand management."Thecooperation in the financial association of the Raiffeisen Banking Groupis one of the prerequisites for our market success and offers clearadvantages and synergy effects to all participants", said Rothensteiner,convinced that the original thoughts and goals underlying the foundationof the institution will be carried on in the future.
* * * * *
For further information please contact Andreas Ecker-Nakamura(+43-676-860 61-1753, firstname.lastname@example.org) or Gregor Bitschnau(+43-676-860 61-1955, email@example.com).http://www.rzb.at,http://www.ri.co.at