Austria will end up with a 49 per cent stake in Volksbanken after rescuing the ailing lender and will look to find a new owner for that stake by 2017.
Finance minister Maria Fekter also said on Tuesday that Austria would have to help nationalised lender Kommunalkredit sort out its Greek debt exposure this year.
She was speaking a day after news Austria was taking a stake in Volksbanken in a rescue that will cost the state more than 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) in writedowns, fresh capital and guarantees.
Fekter said the bailout would have no impact on Austria’s drive to consolidate state finances because it would finance the deal by increasing a special levy on banks it adopted last year.
“The bank levy is being raised so that banking sector itself contributes to this reorganisation,” she said.
Volksbanken became the third Austrian lender in which the state has a stake - Austria nationalised former Volksbanken unit Kommunalkredit and Hypo Alpe Adria during the 2008/09 financial crisis.
“We know that there are Greek securities at Kommunalkredit and, in the course of its restructuring, Kommunalkredit will also need money. Precautions have been taken for this and this is something we will have to process this year,” Fekter told reporters before a cabinet meeting.
Austria has made clear previously it was ready to provide more state aid to KA Finanz, the so-called bad bank split off from Kommunalkredit, should writedowns on its Greek debt portfolio require it.
The size of additional aid depends on the outcome of talks on private sector involvement in restructuring Greece’s sovereign debt.
KA Finanz has said it has nearly 1 billion euros in such exposure, of which around half is in the form of credit default swaps or total return swaps.
Kommunalkredit Austria, the “good” part of the lender Austria nationalised in 2008, has said it could weather any hit on its Greek debt holdings without more state aid.
Ratings agencies have cited Austria’s relatively large financial sector as a risk to its sovereign debt rating. Standard & Poor’s has already stripped Austria of its AAA rating and Moody’s has said it might do the same.
The government intends to raise the bank tax by a quarter until 2017 to fund its costs in the bailout.
“It is simply a matter of fairness that the sector that benefits from stability in the financial sector also makes a contribution,” deputy finance minister Andreas Schieder said in a radio interview, adding competition among banks would prevent them from passing the levy on to customers.
Asked if the 750 million euros to be raised by the extra levy would suffice, he said: “It will be, and must be, enough.”Austria’s big lenders include Erste Group Bank, Raiffeisen Bank International and its unlisted parent Raiffeisen Zentralbank, and Italian group UniCredit’s Bank Austria unit.
The bank tax introduced last year aims to raise around 500 million euros annually. It is based on lenders’ adjusted total assets and ranges from zero for less than 1 billion euros assets to 0.085 per cent for assets over 20 billion.