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08.09.04

The Banker awards three prizes to RZB Group

Bank of the Year 2004 in Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania.

Yesterday night, The Banker, the renowned magazine of the FinancialTimes group, has awarded the prestigious prizeBank of the Year 2004 to three Central and Eastern European (CEE) subsidiaries of Raiffeisen Zentralbank Oesterreich AG (RZB-Austria). The ceremony took place during a reception in London. RZB Group is dedicated to deliver superior customer service quality throughout CEE and in Austria and these awards clearly honour our approach, says Walter Rothensteiner, Chairman of RZBs Board of Management.

The awardBank of the Year is given for different regions, countries and categories. Decisive for the honour are not only quantitative aspects such as total assets but also the development of modern technical infrastructures and future-oriented strategies und their implementation.

Serial winners in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belarus and Albania

Raiffeisen Bank d.d. Bosna i Hercegovina, Belarusian Priorbank and Bankae Kursimeve (Savings Bank of Albania) received the titleBank of the Year 2004 for their respective markets already the second time in a row. The Banker explained its choice with the banks strong sustainable market positions and their status as one of the most profitable banks in their countries.

In 2003, Raiffeisen Bank Bosna i Hercegovina, Sarajevo, was the largestbank of its country the third consecutive year. Its balance-sheet totalgrew by 22.6 per cent to 882 million in the first half of 2004. Continuous product innovation and high service quality distinguish the bank. In April 2003, Raiffeisen Bank became the first bank in Bosnia and Herzegovina to establish a securities brokerage firm Raiffeisen Brokers. Additionally, a lease finance company was founded in January 2004. Currently, the bank employs a staff of more than 1,000 and operates a network of 63 branches throughout the country making it the only bank with a nation-wide coverage.

Priorbank: First Belarusian bank ever to win this award twice

Having won the awardBank of the Year as the first of its country in 2003, the Belarusian Priorbank, which was acquired by RZB in 2003, topped this success this year by getting the trophy a second time. Priorbank, established in 1988 as Minsk Innovation Bank, clearly leads its domesticmarket in the field of technological innovation. With 224,000 cards issued, it also has the lead in the plastic cards business. Furthermore, it is the only bank in Belarus to offer the delivery of account statements by e-mail and online services such as account opening. Priorbanks web-site is the first on-line front office in Belarus.

By its balance-sheet total of 470 million at the end of the first semester of 2004, Priorbank is the largest private universal bank in the country, and the third largest among all local banks. Priorbanks more than 2,000 employees currently service about 467,000 clients, including public sectorenterprises, small and medium-sized enterprises (SME), corporate customers and private individuals, in 60 branches.

Banka e Kursimeve: Market leader in Albania

Banka e Kursimeve, Tirana, which was fully taken over by RZB in April2004, runs the largest branch network in the country with 82 outlets andabout 960 employees. As of 30 June 2004, its balance-sheet total was 1.6 billion making it the countrys undisputed market leader. It currently has a 53 per cent market share in the banking sectors assets and a 57 per cent market share in deposits. Moreover, Savings Bank of Albania is the most profitable bank in South Eastern Europe, with a return on equity (ROE) before tax of 38.3 per cent at the end of the first semester 2004.

Banka e Kursimeve will be renamed Raiffeisen Bank this autumn. Using thestrong Raiffeisen brand that represents trust and security will give apositive signal to the market and will help to increase investors trust in the local banking sector. Investors will not least benefit from RZBs dense banking network in CEE. Moreover, Banka e Kursimeve plans to offer loans, overdrafts, mortgage loans and cards to retail customers in the near future. Corporate customers as well asSME will soon enjoy products tailored for their needs. RZB will therefore not only enlarge the range of banking products currently available on the market but also increase the competitiveness of the Albanian banking sector.

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Raiffeisen Bank, Priorbank and Savings Bank of Albania are subsidiariesof Raiffeisen International Bank-Holding AG (Raiffeisen International).Raiffeisen International, 100 per cent owned by RZB, is the holdingcompany for RZBs most important subsidiaries in CEE. RZB is the central institution of the Austrian Raiffeisen Banking Group, the country''s most powerful banking group. RZB is a leading corporate and investment bank in Austria and also considers CEE as its home market, where it operates,via Raiffeisen International, a network of 15 subsidiary banks with more than 800 banking outlets, as well as two representative offices, in 16 markets of the region. In March 2004, Global Finance announced that RZB and its Network Banks were selected as winners of the Best Bank in Eastern Europe and Central Asia-award. The network banks in Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro and Slovakia won the Best Bank-awards for their respective markets.

 

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