Trapped In Russia: How Raiffeisen Bank Austria Avoided Disaster Despite Record Profits


In the early 2000s, Raiffeisen Bank Austria risked getting stuck in Russia. The bank’s large presence in a country that was increasingly hostile to foreign investments meant that it had to be very cautious about its operations. Despite being one of the top banking institutions in the world and recording record profits, it was still at risk from government policies and regulations. This blog post details how Raiffeisen Bank Austria managed to dodge disaster and come out unscathed despite tumultuous times. Learn how they kept their business alive despite these threats, as well as which tactics they implemented to ensure their success.

What happened to Raiffeisen Bank Austria?

In 2015, Raiffeisen Bank Austria (RBA) made headlines when it announced record profits. However, these profits came at a cost: the bank was effectively trapped in Russia.

The Russian economy was in freefall and RBA’s clients were struggling to repay their loans. To make matters worse, the sanctions imposed on Russia by the West made it difficult for RBA to repatriate its profits.

In order to avoid disaster, RBA took drastic measures. It sold off its Ukrainian business and wrote down the value of its Russian loans. As a result, RBA’s 2015 profits were much lower than expected.

Despite these challenges, RBA has managed to weather the storm and emerge relatively unscathed. The bank is now focusing on its core markets of Austria and Central and Eastern Europe.

How did they avoid disaster?

In 2009, Raiffeisen Bank Austria (RBA) was the most profitable bank in Russia. It was also one of the few foreign banks to maintain a strong presence in the country during the global financial crisis.

RBA’s success is due in part to its conservative lending practices. The bank avoided the risky subprime mortgage lending that led to the collapse of many Western banks. RBA also maintained a strong focus on corporate clients, which helped it weather the crisis better than many of its competitors.

In addition, RBA benefited from being part of a large and diversified banking group. Raiffeisen Zentralbank Osterreich AG (RZB), RBA’s parent company, is one of Austria’s largest banks. RZB has a strong presence in Central and Eastern Europe, which helped RBA weather the crisis better than many other foreign banks operating in Russia.

What are the lessons learned?

In the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis, many banks were struggling to survive. But one bank in particular, Raiffeisen Bank Austria, not only survived but thrived. In fact, the bank reported record profits in the years following the crisis.

So what lessons can be learned from Raiffeisen Bank Austria’s experience?

First and foremost, it’s important to have a diversified business model. The bank has a wide range of businesses, from retail banking to investment banking, and this helped it weather the storm during the crisis.

Secondly, it’s important to have a strong risk management framework in place. The bank has a rigorous risk management process that helps it identify and mitigate risks effectively.

Thirdly, it’s important to have a good relationship with regulators. The bank has a close working relationship with Austrian regulators, which helped it navigate the regulatory landscape during the crisis.

Finally, it’s important to have a strong capital base. The bank was well-capitalized before the crisis and this helped it weather the storm and emerge stronger than ever before.


Raiffeisen Bank Austria’s experience in Russia serves as an example of a company that was able to survive despite the incredibly difficult conditions they faced. The bank managed to successfully navigate through an uncertain and hostile environment, while still managing to make record profits. In addition, their risk management strategies and financial acumen allowed them to minimize losses and emerge from the crisis with minimal damage. Their story is one of resilience, determination, quick thinking and sound business decisions that can serve as important lessons for all businesses operating abroad.

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