market economy is closely tied to its European neighbours, especially Germany,
and like Germany, its economy fared reasonably well during the financial crisis
(e.g. the country now has the lowest level of unemployment in the EU). Its
largest banks have spread their influence eastwards, to become major forces in Central
and Eastern Europe (CEE), and Austrian banks are present in, inter alia, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina,
Bulgaria, Belarus, Serbia, Montenegro, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Hungary, Poland,
Romania, Russia, Slovenia, Slovakia and the Ukraine.
banking sector can be divided into 7 subsectors: private banks, savings banks,
state mortgage banks, Raiﬀeisen credit cooperatives, Volksbanken credit cooperatives,
building and loan associations and special purpose banks. The biggest sectors
are the private banks, the Raiﬀeisen credit cooperatives and the savings banks
largest banks in Austria are Erste Group, Unicredit
Bank Austria and RZB Group. Erste Group is Austria's largest by assets. UniCredit
Bank Austria (usually known simply as Bank Austria) is 96.35% owned by the
Group. RZB Group, or Raiffeisen Zentralbank Group, is 87.70% owned by
R-Landesbanken-Beteiligung GmbH, which in turn is owned by the nine Austrian
Raiffeisen regional banks. All three have extensive operations across the CEE
the financial crisis, three midsized Austrian banks, Hypo Alpe Adria,
Kommunalkredit and Osterreichische Volksbanken required government bail-outs, and
the Austrian government also took stakes in Erste Group and RZB (Source: FT).
In 2010 the government introduced a new bank
tax to help recoup the costs of the bail-outs.
Austria has two regulatory bodies for the financial
industry: the central bank, Oesterreichische
Nationalbank (OeNB) and the Austrian
Financial Market Authority (FMA). The FMA is an is responsible for
supervising the financial sector as a whole, including banks, insurance
companies, financial conglomerates, pension funds and the Vienna stock
FMA and the OeNB have joint responsibility for the supervision of banks. According
to the OeNB, it is responsible for fact finding, while the FMA is responsible
for decision-making, using information provided by the OeNB in thr course of
its work. For further information see the Central Bank's leaflet: How
are banks supervised in Austria?