Austrian banking group opens shop
in Malta, targets niche market
BAWAG PSK Group, the third largest bank in Austria with
a balance sheet amount of Lm21 billion, has opened a 100 per cent-owned
subsidiary in Malta with a capitalisation of Lm210 million.
The Malta Financial Services Authority granted a banking licence in
terms of the Banking Act and the new bank is inaugurated this week in
the presence of Finance and Economic Affairs Minister John Dalli and
BAWAG PSK Group CEO Johann Zwettler.
BAWAG Malta Bank Ltd is not a retail bank, but will concentrate primarily
on commercial banking, offering loan and deposit services in any currency
other than the Malta Lira. There is to be a strong focus on financing
of projects for both the public and private sectors, in Malta and over
the whole of the Mediterranean basin. BAWAG Malta Bank Ltd will also
participate in international syndicated loans for corporate entities,
banks and sovereign states in the Mediterranean region, and in structured
security transactions. The bank will also issue bonds in Malta to international
investors, in line with the special incentives on money market term
deposits for Austrian companies.
The managing director of BAWAG Malta Bank Ltd is Dr Otto Karacek, who
is Austrian. The chairman is Dr Francis Vassallo, who is Maltese.
BAWAG PSK Group is expanding into the new, potential and existing member
states of the European Union, by buying existing operations, setting
up new banks, or opening representative offices. Malta is the latest
such move. BAWAG is already present in Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia,
the Czech Republic and Ireland, besides Austria. Johann Zwettler said:
"This step shows our confidence in the expansion of the European
Union. Growth in Malta is likely to be boosted. The Maltese market is
very important to us, but it also allows us access to much of the Mediterranean
region. This is an on-shore operation, and we want it to be a Maltese
Dr Otto Karasek said: "The process of setting up this operation
has been very efficient. We made our initial enquiry with the Malta
Financial Services Authority in February, and here we are in September,
ready to begin. The MFSA process was dynamic, structured and consistent.
We have also received highly satisfactory service from all those involved
in the actual setting up of these offices."
Dr Francis Vassallo said: "BAWAG has taken Malta very seriously.
The Malta operation is highly capitalised, but the risk is considered
to be low because of political stability and the security engendered
by membership of the European Union. The Maltese tax regime is favourable,
but these have been the crucial points.