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Erste Bank unlikely to accept takeover offers from competitors

Erste Bank AG, Austria's second-biggest lender, said it's unlikely to accept takeover offers that may be made by competitors looking to enter the eastern European banking market. „Erste will listen to offers from other banks if they reflect the true value of our bank,” spokesman Michael Mauritz said yesterday in an interview, though the Vienna-based lender's supervisory board would be unlikely to accept an offer. Mauritz said that Erste hasn't received any bids. The bank has tapped into higher growth in eastern Europe by acquiring rivals that boost lending revenue. Erste also plans to almost double the number of credit cards it issues in the region by 2008. Erste is targeting at least 40% annual profit growth in Romania once it completes the acquisition of Banca Comerciala Romana SA, that country's largest lender, this month. (Bloomberg)