Hypovereinsbank – which merged recently with Bank Austria Creditanstalt, the leading custodian bank in Austria and Central and Eastern Europe – is rapidly becoming the sexiest bank in German-speaking Europe. Although pre-tax profits for 2001 plunged 30.5 percent to EUR 1.549 billion this still looked good by comparison with the results announced recently by Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank. The final quarter of the year was particularly good, with pre-tax profits of EUR456 million making it comfortably the best three months of the year.
During the year, HVB achieved savings EUR 195 million from the integration of Bank Austria Creditanstalt, with the payroll shrinking by 4.6 per cent to 69,520. “The abrupt downturn of the stock markets, the steep recession, the work involved with integrating Bank Austria presented us with tremendous challenges in 2001,” explained Dr. Albrecht Schmidt, spokesman of the Board of Managing Directors of the HVB Group. “However, our preliminary figures for 2001 demonstrate our competitiveness. HVB is able to perform successfully under difficult conditions. Now that integration of Bank Austria has by and large been concluded, we have a good starting position already for 2002. With its new management structure and the integration measures it has taken, the HVB Group is well-positioned for competition in the year 2002. Productivity and profitability will continue to expand this year.”
But analysts say the picture is not as rosy as this sounds. Commission income from securities operations was down by an eighth. Costs overall were up by 3.3 percent. The apparently good results rested heavily on a series of one-off gains. The risk provision was increased to over EUR 2 billion.
Definitive financial statements are due on March 21, 2002.