Bank für Arbeit und Wirtschaft AG, BAWAG
Bank für Arbeit und Wirtschaft AG, BAWAG, principal shareholders are the Austrian Federation of Trade Unions and Bayerische Landesbank, which took over the shares of Konsum Österreich after the latter's bankruptcy in 1995. With a balance sheet total of 267 thousand million ATS (figures from 1998), 2,500 staff and 154 branch offices, the bank figures among Austria´s biggest universal banks.
When the bank was founded in 1922 by K. Renner as "Arbeiterbank", its purpose was to combine and administer the finances of trade unions and consumer cooperatives. Even though business developed favourably during the world-wide economic crisis, the bank was wound up for political reasons in 1934.
In 1947 the bank was newly founded and then slowly started developing spheres of business other than its original one. The bank´s name was changed to "Bank für Arbeit und Wirtschaft" (i.e. "Bank for Labour and Business") in 1963 to demonstrate publicly the re-orientation of its business policy. However, the bank continued to concentrate its business on providing extensive financial services for persons in dependent employment. Specialised products were developed for this target group, such as the Barzustellungskredit (BZK), a type of loan which is administered by the works council. In the savings sector, the Kapitalsparbuch (capital passbook) was a great success. Up to the year 1979, BAWAG was restricted in its expansion by a banking law which required a licence to be obtained for every single branch office that was opened. BAWAG therefore had only 26 branch offices in 1977. Since the law was amended in 1979, the bank has opened over 120 new offices and started a new offensive in commercial and international business. Due to its sound primary money base, the bank has been able to significantly expand its credit business with private business. Innovative products and services are also offered in the securities and electronic banking sectors. Partnership with the Bayerische Landesbank has contributed to the BAWAG's intensifying its international business with the Central and Eastern European countries on Austrian borders as well as with Hongkong.