AFTER a successful expansion in Germany, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, the Austrian bank Oberbank has expanded into Slovakia as well. In late April, it launched its Slovak arm in Bratislava. Despite the economic crisis, this strong regional bank with a 140-year history and almost 330,000 clients boosted its operating profit last year by more than 13 percent, reaching over €206 million, said Jana Klúčiková, from Key2B, a marketing communication company who notified The Slovak Spectator about the bank’s arrival in Slovakia.
The bank first wants to serve its existing clients active in the Slovak business sector, said Josef Weissl, a member of the board of directors, on April 28, as cited by the SITA newswire. Almost 600 Austrian and German clients of Oberbank have branches or commercial contacts in Slovakia.
The second goal of the bank is to recruit new clients in Slovakia. It wants to address small and medium-sized businesses that operate in the same spheres as other Oberbank clients. According to Weissl, the bank has identified almost 60,000 businesses from those segments in Slovakia that are potential clients. Moreover, almost 10,000 business entities from Austria have branches or commercial interests in Slovakia. The bank plans to gain the first hundred new clients during this year.
Among reasons that Oberbank lists for its entry into Slovakia are higher expectations for economic growth in Slovakia compared with the EU average, a significant increase in personal consumption and a favourable rate of inflation. Moreover, Oberbank views Slovakia’s banking sector as having significant growth potential. The introduction of the euro in Slovakia enables Oberbank to use its existing banking information systems and programmes which made its entry much easier.
For now Oberbank only has an office in Bratislava but by the end of 2011 it plans to open another five in Trenčín, Košice, Banská Bystrica, Žilina and Nitra.
The bank also wants to provide its services to individuals when it finds an interesting segment. The bank sees the field of deposits having considerable potential but also perceives space in financing of housing.
Over 50 percent of Oberbank is in the hands of sister banks BKS Bank AG and Bank fur Tirol und Vorarlberg AG, and other investors. The bank currently operates in Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and now in Slovakia.