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Public relations section
• Presentation by Federal President Heinz Fischer upon proposal of Federal Minister of Finance Maria Fekter
• Appreciation of international commitment of RBI and pioneering work in Central and Eastern Europe
In a ceremony today at noon, Austrian Federal President Heinz Fischer presented to Herbert Stepic, CEO of Raiffeisen Bank International AG (RBI), the Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold for Services to the Republic of Austria. The decoration followed a proposal by Federal Minister of Finance Maria Fekter. It honours Herbert Stepic's economic merits above all regarding RBI's international commitment and the pioneering work in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). This work contributed to opening a new business field for both local and international banks, above all those of Austrian origin. The region continues to offer a significantly higher growth potential than Western Europe. Furthermore, Stepic had a great share in tapping this new terrain for the Austrian economy as a whole.
In his acceptance speech, Stepic emphasized the decoration was a boost in motivation for him. He said he accepted it on behalf of thousands of employees who were showing a high level of enthusiasm and motivation in spite of the currently rough economic climate. "Even after 25 years, I consider myself a missionary regarding Central and Eastern Europe and try to convey my passion for the region. I sympathise very much with the region's people and their desire to create the level of prosperity that their parent's generation lacked. CEE continues to be Europe's growth region and a significant growth factor for Austria's economy", Stepic said.
The Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold for Services to the Republic of Austria is one of the highest Austrian decorations for business persons. Besides Stepic's family, among others Unicredit-CEO Willibald Cernko, Ewald Nowotny (Governor of the Austrian National Bank), Christian Konrad (Chairman of the Austrian Raiffeisen Association), former Austrian Vice Chancellor Josef Proll and Erste Group-CEO Andreas Treichl participated in the ceremony.
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Raiffeisen Bank International AG (RBI) regards both Austria, where it is a leading corporate and investment bank, and Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) as its home market. In CEE, RBI operates an extensive network of subsidiary banks, leasing companies and a range of other specialised financial service providers in 17 markets.
RBI is the only Austrian bank with a presence in both the world's financial centres and in Asia, the group's further geographical area of focus.
In total, around 60,000 employees service about 13.7 million customers through around 2,900 business outlets, the great majority of which are located in CEE.
RBI is a fully-consolidated subsidiary of Raiffeisen Zentralbank Osterreich AG (RZB). RZB indirectly owns around 78.5 per cent of the common stock, the remainder is in free float. RBI's shares are listed on the Vienna Stock Exchange. RZB is the central institution of the Austrian Raiffeisen Banking Group, the country's largest banking group, and serves as the head office of the entire RZB Group, including RBI.