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Austria’s Oberbank to Be First Foreign Bank to Enter CR after EU Accession

Austria’s Oberbank will be the first foreign bank to take advantage of unified EU banking rules after Czech entry to the EU and set up shop in the Czech Republic without going through a special licensing process, according to the daily Hospodarske noviny (HN).

With the CR’s accession to the EU in May 2004, any EU bank will be allowed to operate in the country without having to apply for a special license from the Czech National Bank (CNB).

Oberbank, which was established in 1869, has 100 branches across Upper Austria, the Salzburg Provinces, Vienna, Lower Austria, Burgenland, Styria and Germany. The bank focuses on small and mid-sized entrepreneurs and individuals with a monthly income of over CZK 30,000.

In the second half of 2003, the bank announced plans to establish a leasing company in the CR this year. Oberbank wants to offer real estate leasing in the first phase.

Spanish and Swiss banks as well as British building societies are likely to follow Oberbank and take advantage of the EU’s single banking license policy in the Czech Republic, says HN.

Analysts say the entry of financial institutions from the EU will lead to more competition and could lower prices of services provided by banks already operating on the Czech market.

(Interfax 19.iii.04)

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