Raiffeisen Bank to buy Czech Republic’s consumer lender Equa bank
Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) has agreed to wholly acquire Czech Republic’s Equa bank, which focuses on consumer lending, for an undisclosed sum.
Austria’s RBI is Equa bank’s third owner since its creation back in 1993 by a Malaysian businessman and former Czechoslovakian president. That’s the same year RBI set up shop in Czech Republic.
Until 2011, Equa bank operated under the name IC Bank. In September 2007, the bank was sold to Italy’s Banco Popolare. But the loss-making bank was then resold to British private equity firm AnaCap Financial Partners.
RBI will be acquiring Equa bank from AnaCap through its Czech subsidiary. The deal will likely close around the end of this year’s second quarter, subject to regulatory approvals.
If it goes ahead, Equa bank will fully merge with RBI’s Czech division, Raiffeisen Bank. Operational integration of the two firms will happen by mid-2022, according to an Equa bank spokeswoman.
Equa bank’s profits dipped 55% in 2020
At the end of 2020, Equa bank’s total assets sat at more than €2.8 billion. It serves some 480,000 customers, making up 4.5% of the total Czech Republic population. It has around 59 branches.
According to its latest full financial results, Equa bank made a net consolidated profit of CZK 403 million ($19 million) in 2019. Increasing from $17.5 million (CZK 372 million) in 2018.
Total volume of loans increased by 16% between 2018 and 2019, exceeding $2.2 billion. Deposit volumes also grew by 14% to around $2.6 billion in 2019. That year, the bank expanded into business banking, but only had around 10,000 business customers at the end of 2019.
But in 2020, Equa bank’s consolidated net profit fell by 55% to $8.5 million, according to Expats.cz.
An Equa bank spokeswoman, Petra Kopecká, told CzechCrunch the consolidation deal would help it save costs and grow revenue.
Soon-to-be former owner AnaCap praises Equa bank’s “strong distribution and underwriting platforms”, which it helped build.
“These have given staff the ability to offer high-quality services and competitive pricing levels which has ultimately given Equa a strong position from which to flourish,” says Tassilo Arnhold, an AnaCap partner.
RBI operates across eastern Europe, from the Czech Republic to Russia and down to the Balkans.
In March 2019, Johann Strobl, RBI’s CEO, said that the bank wanted to take an active role in Europe’s bank consolidation. But it seems to be picking targets carefully.
Solely on the look out for “portfolios and small banks should a suitable opportunity arise and the price be right”, Strobl added in 2019.
Raiffeisen Bank, RBI’s Czech Republic subsidiary, reported total assets of €15.7 billion in 2020.
But its net profit – similarly to Equa bank – fell by around half (49% year-on-year) to $100 million, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Currently, RBI operates 13 subsidiaries across Central Eastern Europe.