In 2009, Erste posted a record operating income of €3.77 billion, up 25.8% from a year earlier.

“The past year has also proved that the countries of Central and Eastern Europe – despite weaknesses in the institutional framework – coped much better with the crisis than expected by many. Despite the economic crisis, the CEE region continues to be an attractive region for Erste Group, thanks to stable margins, slowly rising credit demand and growing customer deposits, especially in the retail business”, said Andreas Treichl (photo), CEO of Erste Group Bank.

Erste’s loan Impairment charges climbed 92% last year, from €1.07 billion to €2.07 billion.

The deteriorating macroeconomic conditions, the related increase in credit defaults and the worsening of borrowers’ creditworthiness were the reasons for the allocation of additional risk provisions.

Erste Group’s total assets at end-December 2009 stood at year-ago level of €201.7 billion.