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“Banks must make sacrifices too,” says OTP chief

Sándor Csányi, chairman-CEO of OTP Bank, Hungary's biggest commercial lender, sees the much contested bank levy in a different light, he said in an interview with business daily Világgazdaság.

“OTP Bank has a vested interest in seeing the economy and the budget put on a sustainable and correct path. Thus I see the situation slightly differently and can even accept that banks must make sacrifices too,” Csányi said. “OTP Bank is a listed company, it gets its liquidity from the markets, that is, it does not get its money from a parent bank, so an increase in Hungary's country risk naturally causes us, as well as our shareholders, more harm than the other banks,” he explained.

Parliament approved the three-year levy, which will raise about HUF 187 billion in budget revenue in 2010, late Thursday. Banks and other financial sector companies protested the levy and it was a point of contention at talks between the government and IMF on the conditions of Hungary's financial aid package.

Csányi noted that the government took the decision on the bank levy without first consulting with the Hungarian Bank Association. “Nevertheless, I acknowledge that there was really no other choice,” he said.

“OTP has great possibilities for expansion, thus its potential for growth is good. For this reason, on which path the Hungarian economy is on is vital for the bank,” Csányi said. (MTI – Econews)