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Gov’t in talks with Erste, Raiffeisen

Parliament

On behalf of the Hungarian government, János Lázár, the minister of the Prime Minister's Office, is in negotiations with Austria’s Erste Bank, regarding a strategic partnership, and with Raiffeisen Bank regarding "their future", Lázár told Hungarian weekly Figyelő. Raiffeisen denied they are in talks with the government, Reuters reported.

"After holding talks with the head of Erste Bank, the prime minister instructed me to make a joint offer. Erste has strategic goals in Hungary. It is a strong financial institution in the country, and deserves special attention," Lázár was quoted as saying. "Raiffeisen may be in a different situation; we would like to agree with them as well on their future," he added.

In response to the Figyelő interview, a Raiffeisen spokeswoman told Reuters, "There are no negotiations, no decisions."

According to Lázár, it is not the government’s aim to establish a system of state-owned banks, but to raise Hungary's share of the sector to 50-70%. He promised the recently state-acquired and merged MKB Bank and Budapest Bank would be sold in a transparent manner within three years.

At a press conference earlier today, Hungary’s Prime Minster Viktor Orbán confirmed what Lázár had said about the "strategic partnership". He chose, however, not to go into further detail.

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