Jan 11, 2017

Budapest Bank chief executive steps down as government take steps to privatize the bank

György Zolnai is to take over at Raiffeisen Bank International's Hungarian subsidiary in May

György Zolnai is to step down as the chief executive of the state-owned Budapest Bank, to take over at Raiffeisen Bank International's Hungarian subsidiary from May, it has been announced.

According to Reuters, the move comes as Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's government is looking to privatize Budapest Bank after Mihály Varga, minister for National Economy, said the bank could be sold in the first half of 2017.

Zolnai 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.

PM Orbán's government set out to increase Hungarian ownership of the country's 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 USD.

Previously, senior officials have floated the idea of merging Budapest Bank, the country's ninth largest bank by assets, 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.

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 and was motivated by his personal career objectives. The government has yet to name his successor and give any details on how it plans to privatize Budapest Bank.