Banking of Halychyna

  • Banking of Halychyna
Issue 8, December 2008.

Austrian financial expert Karl Schlagenhaufen represents Volksbank  in Lviv. Like many Austrians he reports finding a home-from-home  for himself in Lviv and believes that despite the current global  economic crisis, the future for the region remains bright.


The Ukrainian banking sector has attracted an enormous amount of international  interest in recent years. What attracted Volksbank specifically to Electronbank and  Lviv?

The Lviv area and Western Ukraine in general borders with a lot of countries  where Volksbank has experience including Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland  through a partnership. As well as its geographical advantages, the Lviv area also has  a lot of small and medium-sized businesses, which is the main target group of our bank.


How did you feel when you first learned that you would be working in the Lviv banking  sector?

My initial reaction was one of excitement. Previously in my career I had worked  in Prague and was on hand to witness that city experience an enormous economic  boom. I was happy to get the chance to go to an emerging market like Ukraine  where I hoped – and still hope – to experience a similar development, despite all the  current disturbances.


What was your first impression of Lviv?

Lviv reminds Austrians like myself of home. The architecture is classically central  European and the condition of most building, which are intact but without any  repairs in decades, is somewhat romantic.


In your opinion what are most attractive investment opportunities in the Lviv region  today?

One thing I know is that many people share my admiration for the city, so there is  a lot of potential in the hotel and tourism sectors. Real estate including offices, high- level commercial space (especially in the inner city) and also residential construction  are all attractive areas for potential investment. Another booming sector for foreign  investors – not only in the Lviv region – is agriculture. Last but not least, Lviv needs  a stronger production base as at the moment the local economy is very much  focused on trade.


How will the global financial crisis impact on the Lviv investment climate?

In the short run, the crisis hits practically everyone who is not entirely independent  of credits or foreign currency. As the local Lviv region economic boom has not  as extreme as in Kyiv, I expect the downturn to also be softer. That is the medium- term perspective. In the long run I hope for stable upward development.


How should the Ukrainian banking sector respond to the challenges of the global  credit crisis?

After getting through the worst turmoil the banking system should look to reduce  the country’s dependency on foreign currency. That takes a big effort by everyone:  government, national banks, and also commercial banks, but it pays off in the long  run.


Will Volksbank continue its regional expansion into other regions of Ukraine in  2009?

We will surely continue our expansion to the east as soon as circumstances allow  it. Right now is the time to take a break and consolidate.


What is your favourite place in Lviv?

Strijskij Park. Is there a better place to relax?


Which Ukrainian cuisine has impressed you the most?

I love the rich choice of salads.


How would you describe Lviv to friends who have never visited the city?

Coming to Lviv is a journey in time – not only a beautiful spot.