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Sopron Bank plans expansion in region

Sopron Bank Rt, Hungary's only regional bank catering to SMEs and private banking clients in northwest Hungary, will add three or four branches to its network in 2006 and another four in 2007, president-CEO Thomas Radil said on Tuesday.

Sopron Bank, founded in 2003, currently has six branches, and will open its seventh next week in Zalaegerszeg, northwest Hungary. It will open two to four more branches later in the year, including one in Budapest. Sopron Bank aims to grow further afterward, but will limit its expansion to the area along Hungary's border with Austria. The bank's owner, Hypo-Bank Burgenland, has so far spent €20 million, or Ft 5 billion, on the bank's network. State-owned Hypo-Bank Burgenland will soon be purchased by Austrian insurer Grawe, under a recent decision by the local government of Burgenland. Grawe already has a unit in Hungary, and the purchase will create synergies with Sopron Bank, Radil said.

Sopron Bank had total assets of Ft 17 billion at the end of 2005, up from Ft 10 billion a year earlier. The bank's stock of client deposits was Ft 5 billion and its stock of client loans was Ft 13 billion.