Milestones of Erste Group history

August 2008 – Legal separation of “Erste Group Bank AG” and “Erste Bank der oesterreichischen Sparkassen AG”

The separation of the Holding and Erste Bank Oesterreich took legal effect upon registration in the Company Register on 9 August 2008. The registered company name of the Holding is “Erste Group Bank AG”. Ever since, the registered company name of split-off Erste Bank Oesterreich is “Erste Bank der Oesterreichischen Sparkassen AG”.

July 2008 - Erste Bank invests in the Russian Center Invest Bank

Erste Bank holds a 9.8% stake in Bank Center-Invest. Bank Center-Invest is a leading regional bank in the federal district of Southern Russia and is headquartered in Rostov. It has some 2,000 employees on the payroll and a network of 110 branches in the region.

The strategic investment in Bank Center-Invest offers an ideal opportunity to get better acquainted with the highly promising Russian market. At the same time. it is a perfect geographical addition to the existing markets of Erste Group.

February 2008 – Erste Bank shares listed on the Bucharest Stock Exchange

Since 14 February 2008, Erste Bank shares have been traded as the first foreign equities on the Bucharest Stock Exchange. Rumania is a very important market for Erste Bank, which feels committed to Rumanian economic development and is therefore strengthening this commitment by supporting the development of the Rumanian capital market.

December 2007 – Erste Bank continues partnership with Austrian savings banks in Croatia and Slovenia

Thanks to the fine cooperation between Erste Bank and Steiermärkische Sparkasse in Croatia, Erste Bank is selling its 41% stake in Diners Club Adriatic to Steiermärkische Sparkasse. Erste Bank will continue to support Kärntner Sparkasse in selling the goods and services of the Sparkassen Group on the Slovenian market. It has therefore acquired a 4% stake in Banka Sparkasse, the Slovenian subsidiary of the Kärntner Sparkasse.

July 2007 – Creation of the de facto Holding

The de facto Erste Bank Holding began operating on 1 July 2007. Until mid-2008, Erste Holding and Erste Bank Austria will operate as two organisations of a single legal entity (Erste Bank der Oesterreichischen Sparkassen AG).

►Mai 2007 – Bank Prestige changes its name to Erste Bank

On 14 May 2007, Bank Prestige will be renamed Erste Bank. The Bank is registered under the name Open Joint-Stock Company “Erste Bank”.

January 2007 – Erste Bank buys out Diners Club in Croatia

By signing the purchase agreement, Erste Bank acquired 100% of Diners Club Adriatic d.d. Croatia (DCA). DCA is the number-two credit card company in Croatia, with a 28.9% market share and nearly 450,000 issued credit cards.

January 2007 – Erste Bank acquires 100% of Bank Prestige

For EUR 79.4 million, Erste Bank acquired the remaining shares of Bank Prestige, thereby acquiring 100% of the promising Ukrainian bank.

July 2006 – Erste Bank acquires a majority stake in Ukrainian Bank Prestige

Erste Bank is acquiring majority shareholdings (50.5%) in Bank Prestige, thereby gaining a foothold in the Ukrainian market, one of the most promising banking markets in Central and Eastern Europe. Plans are to set up a nationwide branch network within the next two years; in the medium term, plans are to acquire a market share commensurate with the balance sheet total of 4%.

January 2006 – 4th Capital Increase

From 11 to 26 January 2006 Erste Bank will offer 58,953,600 new ordinary shares for subscription in the course of a capital increase. The proceeds from the public offering will be used to fund the BCR buyout, strengthen the capital base, and achieve further growth in Central and Eastern Europe.

December 2005 – Erste Bank takes over Romanian BCR

On 20 Dec 2005, Erste Bank was awarded the contract to buy 61.88% of Banca Comerciala Romana S.A. (BCR), the biggest bank in Romania. With a little over 2.8 million customers and 12,000 employees, the Bank is an ideal addition to the existing Erste Bank network in Central and Eastern Europe.

July 2005 – Purchase agreement for Serbian Novosadska banka signed

On 15 July 2005, Erste Bank signed the purchase agreement for the acquisition of 83.28% of the shares of Novosadska banka a.d., Novi Sad from the Republic of Serbia. With the purchase of the Bank, Erste Bank is breaking into the Serbian market, which has significant growth potential.

June 2005 – 3rd Capital Increase

A total of 1,740,708 new shares were issued out of contingent capital in the course of a capital increase. The number of shares of Erste Bank has thus been increased to 243,183,500 shares, and the share capital has increased to EUR 486,367,200.

January 2005 – Erste Bank becomes the 100% owner of Slovenská sporitel’ňa a.s.

On 10 January 2005, Erste Bank exercised the call option to acquire 19.99% of Slovenská sporiteľňa from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Slovenská sporiteľňa is now a 100% subsidiary of Erste Bank.

September 2004 – Merger between Erste Bank Hungary and Postabank

On 1 September 2004, Erste Bank Hungary merged with the Hungarian Postabank to become Erste Bank Hungary, which is now the second-largest retail bank in Hungary.

July 2004 – Stock Split

On 8 July 2004, Erste Bank implemented a stock split in a ratio of 1:4 following the excellent performance by Erste Bank shares in recent years (the share price increased by 180% to reach over EUR 125).  The stock split is intended to make Erste Bank shares easier to trade.

September 2003 – Erste Bank is awarded contract for Postabank

After Erste Bank was awarded the contract for the Hungarian Postabank és Takarékpénztár Rt. in the privatisation process, it signed the purchase agreement for 99.97% of the shares held by the State of Hungary on 20 October 2003. Through the acquisition of Postabank, Erste Bank has taken another important step forward in the Central European strategy.

August 2003 – Merger between Riječka banka and Erste & Steiermärkische

Erste & Steiermärkische Bank d.d. Riječka, formed by the merger of the two banks, is now the third-biggest banking group in Croatia.
The new Bank’s registered office is in Riječka and its headquarters is in Zagreb. It serves some 600,000 customers.

October 2002 – Erste Bank shares listed on the Prague Stock Exchange

Since 1 October 2002, Erste Bank shares have also been traded on the Prague Stock Exchange. This was another important step towards solidifying Erste Bank’s leading position in Central Europe.

July 2002 – 2nd Capital Increase

With 2 capital increase of Erste Bank, another 9.21 million shares (some EUR 642 million) were placed on the Vienna Stock Exchange. The proceeds will be used primarily to acquire Česká spořitelna shares from AVS and to recapitalise the acquisition of Riječka banka.

April 2002 – Purchase of Riječka banka d.d.April 2002 – Erwerb der Riječka banka d.d.

On 29 April 2002, Erste Bank acquired 85.02% of Riječka banka d.d. The Bank is one of the five biggest banks in Croatia and has most of its branches on the northern coast of Crotia and in the Riječka region.

December 2001 – Takeover of the majority of Tiroler Sparkasse

After Erste Bank acquired a majority stake in the Tiroler Sparkasse in December 2001, it acquired 51% of the Sparkasse at the start of the year. As part of its market position adjustment strategy, Erste Bank branches Innsbruck und Seefeld and KommerzCenter Innsbruck in were added to the Tiroler Sparkasse in 2002. In exchange, Erste Bank’s stake in TiSpa was increased to 69.51%.

September 2001 – Haftungsverbund Signed

The most important milestone in the cooperation with the savings banks was achieved on 26 September 2001 through the creation of the Haftungsverbund between Erste Bank and the Savings Banks. Nearly all the domestic Savings Banks mutually guarantee their customers’ deposits.

January 2001 – Majority shareholdings in Slovenská sporitel’ňa a.s.

From the start of 2001, Erste Bank became the majority shareholder (87.18%) of Slovenská sporitel’ňa in the Slovak Republic. The acquisition of the largest Slovak bank was a logical further step in the strategy of the enlarged internal market in Central Europe.

October 2000 – 1st Capital Increase

In autumn 2000, in the course of a capital increase, 6 million shares (over EUR 280 million) were successfully placed on the Vienna Stock Exchange. The proceeds from the capital increase were also used for the expansion towards Central Europe.

Sept. 2000 – Merger of Croatian subsidiary banks into Erste & Steiermärkischen Bank d.d.

Since October 1997, Erste Bank, together with Steiermärkische Bank und Sparkassen AG successively acquired a majority stake in the three smaller Croatian banks Bjelovarska banka, Trgovacka banka and Cakovecka banka. In September 2000, the three banks were finally merged into Erste&Steiermärkischen Bank d.d., which has proved capable of defending its position as one the country’s eight biggest banks despite strong competition.

February 2000 – Acquisition of 52.07% of Česká spořitelna a.s.

On 3 February 2000, Erste Bank acquired a majority stake of 52.07% in Česká spořitelna, the biggest retail bank in the Czech Republic. The acquisition was another important step in Erste Bank’s strategy to become the leading retail bank in Central Europe.

November 1997 – IPO

The IPO of Erste Bank was implemented on 13–28 November 1997. In Austria’s biggest IPO up to that point in time, 11.5 million shares equivalent in value to over EUR 500 million were placed.

September 1997 – Takeover of the Hungarian Mezöbank

With the takeover of the Hungarian Mezöbank, which as the fifth-biggest branch network in Hungary, Erste Bank secured a good starting position in the extended internal market of Central Europe.
In November 1998, Mezöbank was renamed Erste Bank Hungary Rt.

1997 – Merger with GiroCredit and Change of Name in "Erste Bank der oesterreichischen Sparkassen AG"

On 19 March 1997, Die Erste and AVS acquired a majority stake in GiroCredit Bank Aktiengesellschaft der Sparkassen (GiroCredit) by purchasing 56.1% of the ordinary shares of GiroCredit (51.1% of the total share capital), which had formerly been held by Anteilsverwaltungssparkasse-Zentralsparkasse. Together with 26% of the ordinary share capital (24.7% of the total share capital), which had already been held by the Erste Group (DIE ERSTE, Salzburger Sparkasse und Sparkasse Mistelbach), AVS and the Erste Group gained control over 82.1% of the ordinary shares (75% of the share capital) of GiroCredit.

Under the merger agreement of 27 June 1997, Die Erste was merged with Giro Credit; among other things, the agreement stipulated a ratio of 2.4:1 for the conversion of ordinary shares of GiroCredit into ordinary shares of the new Erste Bank.
The merger was implemented through the absorption of GiroCredit into Die Erste; through universal succession, Die Erste was subrogated into all the rights and obligations of GiroCredit.
The merger was approved by the general shareholders’ meetings of Die Erste and GiroCredit on 21 Aug. 1997 and became legally effective upon registration in the Company Register on 4 October 1997. At the same time, “DIE ERSTE österreichische Spar-Casse - Bank AG” was renamed “Erste Bank der Oesterreichischen Sparkassen AG”.

Info on GiroCredit:
In 1937, GiroCredit was founded by the Sparkassen  as “Girovereinigung der österreichischen Sparkassen” to serve as the central institution of the Sparkassen Group in Austria and as the clearing bank for payments between the Savings Banks. In 1992, the institution, which had since been renamed “Girozentrale der österreichischen Sparkassen Aktiengesellschaft”, merged with ÖCI (Österreichisches Credit-Institut) to become “GiroCredit Bank Aktiengesellschaft der Sparkassen”.

As the legal successor of GiroCredit, Erste Bank provides a number of financial services for the Sparkassen Group. This relationship was intended to provide advantages to both Erste Bank and the Sparkassen Group, especially through shared product distribution channels, joint marketing, and other agreements.

1993 – Transfer of business operations to a joint-stock company

In 1993, the business operations of Die Erste were transferred to a public limited company pursuant to the 1986 Banking Act Amendment. This was achieved through a transfer by “DIE ERSTE österreichische Spar-Casse – Bank” of all its banking operations to “DIE ERSTE österreichische Spar-Casse - Bank Aktiengesellschaft”, a newly founded subsidiary, which became the operational bank.
“DIE ERSTE österreichische Spar-Casse” remained the holding company for the shares of the newly founded subsidiary: When its banking business was transferred, it changed its name to “DIE ERSTE österreichische Spar-Casse Anteilsverwaltungssparkasse (AVS)”.

Pursuant to the Banking Act of 1979, Die Erste had issued 500 million schillings of participation certificate capital by 1991.
After 1993, Die Erste was able to issue preferred shares. In November 1993, the preferred shares were listed on the Vienna Stock Exchange; EA-Generali and BARC, which already owned participation certificates, swapped their participation certificates for preferred shares. In addition, Die Erste implemented a public offering of preferred shares in 1993. From 1994 to 1996, participation certificates were exchanged for preferred shares, with the result that almost all the participation certificates issued by Die Erste have been exchanged.

Reconstruction after World War II

The time of the “Austrian Annexation” was also a serious trial for Die Erste. Despite extremely severe repression, it managed to maintain the word “österreichisch” ‘[“Austrian”] in the business name: an expression of the firm’s stance that we now look back on with respect.

The spirited reconstruction after World War II brought along development, also opening up new business sectors for Die Erste: the expansion of private payments, the required forms of savings, the financing of investments, the promotion of new products, support or exporting and lending for private households. The Bank continued to develop quickly into a universal problem-solver for all client groups. A clear expression of this new philosophy was the complete make-over of the “Corporate Identity” of Die Erste in 1977. The breakthrough towards becoming a modern bank was thus documented visually, too, inside and out.

The enactment of the Banking Act in 1979, the repeal of the ministerial authorisation requirements for branch banks in 1977 and the termination of the Habenzinsabkommen [agreement to coordinate interest rates on customer bank deposits] in 1980 led to a fundamentally new situation in the Austrian credit sector. In an atmosphere of deregulation (i.e., the liberalisation of the basic legal context), internationalisation, and fast-paced mechanisation of the banking business, all the lending institutions began to compete for customer groups that used to be primarily managed by other institutions.

1819 – Foundation of the association "Verein der Ersten österreichischen Spar-Casse" as Austria’s first savings bank

During the years of economic crisis in the wake of the Napoleonic War, Emperor Francis I proposed the creation of a savings bank based on the German and English model. Johann Baptist Weber, a pastor in Leopoldstadt, pursued this idea. In 1819, he founded the association “Verein der Ersten österreichischen Spar-Casse” and on 4 October 1819 the first Die Erste opened its doors for business.

 Its mission in the year of its foundation was described as follows: “[Its] purpose is to provide [...] factory workers, peasants, or other industrious and economical minors or persons of full legal age with the means of gradually building up a small amount of capital out of their hard-won earnings, so they can spend it later in life in for retirement, dowries, assistance in sickness, old age, or to achieve any praiseworthy objective”. That recurrent theme of the savings bank – the promotion of a sense of savings and provisions for the future has basically remained unchanged up to the present day.

Soon after it was founded, Die Erste grew quickly and, together with the savings bank “Allgemeine Versorgungsanstalt” that joined it, spread throughout the entire Austro-Hungarian Empire. Cassa di Risparmio delle Provincie Lombarde - Cariplo, founded in 1824 and now the world’s biggest savings bank, was derived from Die Erste based on its articles of association.

[Please note (2008): The association, which is called nowadays „Verein-DIE ERSTE österreichische Spar-Casse AG“, still exists. It has the duty to support DIE ERSTE österreichische Spar-Casse Privatstiftung.]