BUDAPEST, Jan 11 (Reuters) - State-owned Budapest Bank’s chief executive Gyorgy Zolnai is to step down, to take over at Austrian lender Raiffeisen Bank International’s Hungarian subsidiary from May, the lenders said on Wednesday.
The move comes as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government is looking to privatise Budapest Bank, the country’s ninth-largest bank by assets, with Economy Minister Mihaly Varga having said the bank could be sold in the first half of 2017.
Meanwhile Zolnai, aged 51, will succeed Heinz Wiedner at Raiffeisen Bank Hungary, the country’s fourth-biggest lender by assets. Wiedner, 63, will retire from the post after six years, a period when foreign banks have clashed repeatedly with Orban over higher taxes and moves to boost local ownership.
Orban has since increased Hungarian ownership of its banks, previously dominated by foreign names, to above 50 percent and last year the state sold its holding in MKB Bank, the country’s sixth largest by assets, to a consortium of investors for $134 million.
Previously senior officials have floated the idea of merging Budapest Bank and MKB Bank to exploit synergies in a market which the central bank and the government have said includes too many large players for a country the size of Hungary.
Orban’s government has yet to give any details on how it plans to privatise Budapest Bank.
Budapest Bank said Zolnai, chief executive since July 2011, would remain in charge until the end of March. The bank said Zolnai’s decision to move was his own due to his career objectives. The government has yet to name his successor. (Reporting by Gergely Szakacs; Editing by Greg Mahlich)