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Austrian banks withstand tough crisis scenario: capital accumulation and increased profitability strengthen resilience

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The European Banking Authority (EBA) and the European Central Bank (ECB), in cooperation with the national supervisory authorities has conducted a stress test on 111 European banks. The results of the stress test were published today, and show that they have a high level of resilience against crises. By reducing the level of non-performing loans and costs on the one hand, and by strengthened capital ratios and increased returns on the other hand, banks emerged from the significantly more severe scenario with higher capital ratios than in the 2021 edition of the stress test. On an EU-wide basis, the Common Equity Tier 1 ratio (CET1-R) in the adverse scenario falls by 4.6 percentage points to 10.4% between the end of 2022 and the end of 2015 (cf. 2021: reduction by 4.9 percentage points to 10.2%).

Austrian banks: capital quotas under stress in “mid-table” among European banks

The six participating Austrian banks also proved themselves to be resilient. On aggregate, they occupy a mid-table position within European with a fall in the capital ratio in the adverse scenario by 3.7 percentage points to 11.1%. Individual level performance is heterogeneous, however all Austrian banks still also meet regulatory capital requirements in the stress scenario.

“The positive results from the stress test don’t give banks carte blanche to change course from that of recent years. The economy will also continue to be characterised by uncertainty in the coming years, and therefore rely on a stable banking sector as a partner”, remarked FMA Executive Director Helmut Ettl when the results were published.

“The banks have proven their resilience under difficult conditions and are able to extend their solid starting position further based on a good earnings situation”, added OeNB Deputy Governor Gottfried Haber. “As a supervisor, we observe the individual risk profiles in great detail, and continue to pay attention to a forward-looking strengthening of the capital base.”

Scenario with a sharp economic downturn and and continuing high inflation

In the fictitious stress test scenario, the supervisor assumes a sharp economic downturn, falling real estate prices and increasing unemployment against a backdrop of high inflation and interest rates continuing to rise. Increased defaulting of loans, lower net commission income and market volatilities lead to losses and consequently banks’ falling capital ratios. The net interest income, in contrast, has a stabilising effect.

“Undisclosed losses” do not pose a threat for Austria’s banks

Independently from the stress test, the supervisor has also analysed the impact of the increase in interest rates on the valuation of primarily fixed-interest bonds in bank portfolios. Such “undisclosed losses” only materialise in the event of an unintended sale prior to maturity and are not reflected in the key balance sheet figures. The analysis shows that there is a low risk in Austria and Europe arising from this, due to stricter regulation with a focus on an adequate capital and liquidity base, unlike in the USA.

Background information

The EU-wide stress test takes place every two years for the largest European banks, and covers approximately 75% of the banking sector measures in terms of total assets. For 70 of the banks (including Austria’s Erste Group Bank and Raiffeisen Bank International) the stress test is conducted by EBA, while the ECB conducts the stress test for the other 41 smaller banks (Austria: Addiko, BAWAG, Raiffeisenlandesbank Oberösterreich, Volksbank). The Banks’ individual results are published on the respective websites of EBA and the ECB.

At the same time, the OeNB and the FMA also conduct a stress test for those Austrian banks that are not covered by the EU-wide stress test. The aggregated results are published by the OeNB at the end of November in its Financial Stability Report.

To the results on the EBA Website;

To the results on the ECB Banking Supervision Website;

Journalists may address further enquiries to:

Klaus Grubelnik (FMA Media Spokesperson)
Mobile: +43 676 88 249 516
[email protected],

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