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EXIM CEO killed in Austrian ski accident

Zoltán Urbán, the CEO of EXIM (the joint company of Hungarian Export-Import Bank Ltd. and Hungarian Export Credit Insurance Ltd.) has died in a skiing accident in Austria. One of his last interviews was with the Budapest Business Journal in the December 15 issue. 

Zoltán Urbán speaking to the BBJ in mid-December. Photo: Eximbank.

Austrian news agency APA first broke the news on Saturday (December 30). Initially it did not name the banker, saying a 51-year-old Hungarian citizen had been found dead on a ski-run in Flachau im Pongau (522 km west of Budapest), a village in the St. Johann im Pongau district in Salzburg state, an area with numerous skiing facilities that make up the Ski Amadé network, one of the largest in Europe, according to Wikipedia.  

On New Year’s Eve, Hungarian news site origo.hu identified the dead Hungarian – who it said had likely suffered a heart attack – as Urbán, a fact later confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, according to Hungary Journal. The story has been reported by a number of other outlets, including blikk.hu, hvg.hu, and Privátbankár.hu.

In his interview given to the BBJ in mid-December (Half of Exim’s Loans to go to SMEs by 2021), Urbán talked about Exim’s top priority next year being the need to equip Hungarian SMEs with the financial means to enter global markets. 

According to his resume on the EXIM website, Urbán graduated from what was then the Karl Marx University of Economics (today Corvinus University of Budapest) as an economist and continued his studies at Wharton School (the business school of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia), and later at Globecon Europe, and the University of Finance and Accountancy of Hungary.  

Urbánʼs banking career started in 1990 at the Industrial Bank House, after which he joined OTP Bank, Hungary’s leading financial institution. He specialized in export lending and bank services related to foreign trade, and broadened his experience in large corporate lending, structured financing and treasury operations. 

After leaving OTP Bank, Urbán became managing director of HypoVereinsbank Hungária from 1997 to 2001, and from 2001 to 2002 was deputy CEO and a member of the board of directors at the Hungarian Development Bank (MFB). He was MD at Dresdner Bank Hungaria from 2003 to 2004. 

From 2004 to 2010, he worked as head of the Budapest office of Landesbank Baden-Württemberg (LBBW) and Südleasing, where he actively participated in expanding the operations of the parent companies in Hungary.  

In 2010, Urbán returned to the MFB to take over as Deputy CEO of the Corporate, Treasury and Capital Market Division and once again became a board member. In January 2014, he was appointed as CEO of Garantiqua Credit Guarantee Co. Ltd.  

Urbán was made the CEO of EXIM on January 5, 2015. From April of that year he was also a board member of the Hungarian Banking Association. As a government delegate, he had been a board member of the European Investment Bank (EIB) for six years. In May 2015, he became a member of the board of directors of the fund manager of the China-Central and Eastern Europe Investment Cooperation Fund. He was also chairman of the board of directors at Chinese-Hungarian Railway Nonprofit Ltd. 

Urbán spoke English, German, Swedish and Russian, and is survived by two children.