The wisdom of prudence

ERM in emerging Europe


Bernhard Spalt had been at Vienna-based Erste Bank for eight years when he received the call from headquarters to go to the Czech Republic. The result was a lesson in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) risk that would influence his entire career.

Erste had acquired Ceska Sporitelna, the largest Czech Savings Bank in that country, from the government. Ceska had lent heavily to the government and was now burdened with massive bad loans. It was also extremely inefficient and overstaffed. Erste had one

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