Austria's Volksbank (OeVAG) followed Thursday in the footsteps of the country's biggest listed bank Erste Bank by announcing massive losses this year, due to major write-offs at home and in Romania.
Given the situation on the financial markets and the ongoing debt crisis, the book values of OeVAG's Vienna-based Investkredit Bank and Volksbank Romania "will be written down by an amount of approximately 700 million euros ($965 million) in the single entity statement," OeVAG's CEO Gerald Wenzel announced.
As a result, "together with further one-off effects, an annual loss ... in OeVAG's single entity financial statements of approximately 900 million euros -- plus or minus 150 million euros, depending on the development of the markets -- is expected from today's viewpoint."
The bank's total loss for 2011 could thus surpass the billion-euro mark.
"We expect a loss ranging from 500 million to 750 million euros on the consolidated group level (IFRS)," Wenzel also said in the statement.
On Monday, Erste Bank predicted a 2011 net loss of 700-800 million euros, due to one-off charges related to the eurozone debt crisis.
This would delay the bank's repayment of a first tranche of state aid "by at least one year," it said.
Volksbank too announced it will not pay back its first 300-million-euro tranche of state aid that was due this year, after a meeting of the supervisory board Thursday evening.
The bank tapped 1.0 billion euros from the state's recapitalisation scheme in 2009 to bolster its balance sheet.
"The economic situation in Europe is getting worse every day ... This has led us to the extraordinary write offs on sovereign risks and on participations, which will clearly affect OeVAG's financial results," Wenzel said in the bank's statement.
"In our view, these steps were necessary in order to prepare ourselves for the tough economic conditions."
The Austrian finance ministry reacted Thursday evening that it would be "ready with further measures to back OeVAG" if need be.
But first it was up to the bank's managers and shareholders "to come with a credible plan to strengthen the institution sustainably," it said in a statement.