Caja Madrid sets up in Vienna as it eyes Eastern Europe boom
Spanish savings bank Caja Madrid has opened an office in Vienna as it looks to do business in fast-growing Central and Eastern Europe26 March 2008
VIENNA - Spanish savings bank Caja Madrid has opened an office in Vienna as it looks to do business in fast-growing Central and Eastern Europe while Spain's economy appears to be running out of steam.
The office has 15 employees, half of them Austrian, and aims to lend EUR 2 billion over two years, mainly to infrastructure projects. The aim is to work with 30 large Spanish companies and 120 other firms with a presence in Central and Eastern Europe.
Spain's second-largest savings bank has its eye on further expansion in the area. "We don't rule out buying a bank in one of the countries in the region," said Matías Amat, the general manager of Caja Madrid's business division. "We've started out with corporate banking because it requires less investment, but we're looking at other opportunities, although prices are very high," he added.
Amat said the region offers bigger margins than Spain, but loan defaults are also higher.
Large Spanish companies invested EUR 10 billion in the region last year. That figure is up from EUR 230 million in 2000, which shows the growing interest in Central and Eastern Europe.
We are here because the region's GDP is growing two or three points above the European average," Amat said.
[Copyright El Pais / ÍÑIGO DE BARRÓN 2008]