(Adds details, background, share price)
VIENNA Oct 6 Austria's Raiffeisen Bank
International and its parent Raiffeisen Zentralbank
left open on Thursday the issue of who will lead them
if their planned merger is completed, and said talks on the deal
price would probably drag on for months.
The banks said on Wednesday they had decided to go ahead
with their proposed merger, aimed primarily at boosting the
capital buffers of Raiffeisen Zentralbank (RZB), after they came
third-last in a stress test of major European lenders.
Addressing widespread media and market speculation that
Heinrich Schaller who heads Raiffeisenlandesbank
Oberoesterreich, would become head of the merged entity, RZB
chief Walter Rothensteiner told a news conference that no
decision had been taken on who would be in charge.
Under the plan, unlisted RZB will be merged into Raiffeisen
Bank International (RBI), in exchange for which RZB shareholders
will receive shares in RBI. But talks on exactly how many shares
will change hands appear to be more difficult than expected, and
the two sides have only agreed on a range so far.
"It will be a relatively long road until we get there," RBI
Chief Executive Karl Sevelda told the same news conference,
adding that the talks on both companies' valuations had been
RBI's shares rose on Thursday morning after the banks gave
the go-ahead for the merger plan and were up 2 percent at 14.28
euros at 0858 GMT. Rothensteiner said a price would be announced
on or close to a Dec. 23 deadline.
The valuation of RBI's Polish unit Polbank IPO-RBP.WA was
one of the reasons the talks on the price were dragging on,
Sevelda said. RBI is in exclusive talks with Poland's Alior Bank
on selling Polbank's core assets.
(Reporting by Francois Murphy. Editing by Jane Merriman and