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16.04.04

RZB and Albanian Government sign Closing ofPurchase of Savings Bank of Albania

RZB takes over 100 percent of the largest Albanian bank and implements operativeleadership. Price of USD 126 million means largest privatizationproject in the Albanian history. Savings Bank completes the strongpresence of RZB''s network in Central and Eastern Europe.Successful privatization is strong signal to internationalinvestment community, RZB will act as a gateway for foreigninvestors and introduce new products andservices.

Raiffeisen Zentralbank sterreich AG (RZB)and the Albanian Government signed the closing regarding thepurchase ofBanka e Kursimeve e Shqip ris (BK), theSavings Bank of Albania, yesterday evening in Tirana. RZB won atender in last December and now received all necessary approvalsfrom the Austrian and Albanian authorities. The purchase price isUSD 126 million for a 100 per cent share in BK, representing a 2.5multiple of the book value.

"We are proud that Raiffeisen invests in theleading Albanian bank and we believe that this is a very positivesignal to other international investors. I expect thatRaiffeisen''s commitment will increase the competitiveness ofthe Albanian banking sector and result in an enlargement of therange of banking products", said Albanian Prime Minister FatosNano on the occasion of the Signing Ceremony.

Herbert Stepic, Deputy Chairman of RZB''sManaging Board confirmed,"RZB''s take-over creates awin-win situation for all parties involved: The Savings Bank ofAlbania will benefit from RZB''s strength and know-how, and thebank''s customers will appreciate the extended product range andthe enhanced opportunities by their bank''s integration into aninternational banking group. At the same time, RZB and its clientswill profit from the extension of RZB''s dense banking networkin Central and Eastern Europe to Albania. The Savings Bank ofAlbania is an ideal complement to our bankingnetwork."

BK is highly profitable and enjoysdominant market shares

BK runs the largest branch network in the countrywith 92 outlets and about 950 employees. Its balance-sheet totalwas EUR 1.4 billion at year-end 2003, its profit before taxamounted to EUR 23.5 million and its Return on Equity was 71 percent. BK has a 53 per cent market share in the banking sector''sassets and a 57 per cent market share in deposits."With thetake-over of the operative business and the trust connected to theRZB Group we will further increase this market share. We will alsotarget corporate customers as well as small and medium sizedenterprises and plan to achieve significant market shares in thesecustomer segments, too", said Stepic.

Ample room for growth inAlbania

Furthermore, there is an enormous growth potential,as Albania is an under-banked market, where loans amount to onlysix percent of GDP (2002- this compares with 111 per cent inAustria). RZB also plans to broaden BK''s product range quickly,offering loans, overdrafts, cards and mortgages to retailcustomers. Corporate customers as well as small and medium-sizedenterprises will soon enjoy products tailored for the needs. RZBwill also provide infrastructure finance, trade finance andsyndicated loans.

RZB has a long-term commitment to theregion

RZB is a leading bank in Central and Eastern Europe(CEE) and has been strongly committed to this region since itfounded its first banking subsidiary in Hungary already in 1986.Since then, it has created a comprehensive banking network,covering 16 markets with 15 banks, two representative offices anddozens of specialized subsidiaries such as leasing companies,pension funds, investment banks, brokers, building societies,factoring houses and real-estate developers. RZB is already veryactive in Albania''s neighbourhood, operating banks in Bosniaand Herzegovina, Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria as well as justacross the country''s borders in Serbia and Montenegro and theKosovo. RZB has reached strong positions in these markets withsignificant market shares.

Albania''s economy is catching upquickly

Albania is one of the fastest growing economies inEurope, although from a low basis. Its GDP per capita increasedeightfold in the last decade and is expected to reach EUR 1,420this year. Real GDP growth reached 5.5 per cent in 2003 and isforecasted at 5.3 per cent for this year by RZB''sanalysts."This is the right time tostep in and provide liquidity to the fast growing economy of thecountry", said Stepic, adding that RZB has both the expertiseand experience necessary to do this for the benefit of allparties.

RZB is a creator of topjobs

Mr. Stepic also underlined the importance of marketprivatization and internationalization as preparatory steps for animproved integration in the European and global markets."These steps strengthen the competitiveness of the economy. Asthe presence of international banks builds trust, RZB will serve asa gateway for foreign direct investors. Moreover, strategicinvestors are usually creators of employment. This appliesespecially to Raiffeisen", explains Stepic. RZB has createdmore than 10,000 jobs in its CEE banking network in the lastdecade.



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RZB is the central institution of the AustrianRaiffeisen Banking Group, the country''s most powerfulbanking group. RZB also considers CEE as its home market andoperates, via Raiffeisen International, a network of 15 subsidiarybanks with roughly 800 banking outlets, as well as tworepresentative offices, in 16 markets of the region (including theAlbanianBanka e Kursimeveacquired at the beginning of2004). In September 2003, theFinancial TimesmagazineThe Bankerhas awarded the prestigious prize"Bank ofthe Year 2003" to RZB in Austria and its network banksBelarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro andSlovakia. In March, RZB was awarded"Best Bank in EasternEurope and Central Asia" by the US-MagazineGlobalFinance. Additionally, RZB''s network banksPriorbank(Belarus),Raiffeisen Bank d.d.(Bosniaand Herzegovina),Raiffeisen Bank S.A.(Romania),Raiffeisenbank a.d.(Serbia and Montenegro) andTatrabanka a.s.(Slovakia) won the"Best Bank" awards fortheir respective countries. WithBanka e Kursimeve, RZBwill integrate the sixth national award winner into itsnetwork.

 

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