As a private Austrian savings banks foundation, we are committed to serve the common good. But, as the major shareholder of Erste Group, ERSTE Foundation also carries a special responsibility. This dual responsibility is part of our history and identity. On the one hand, we use the profit from our shares to support the development of societies in Austria and Central and South Eastern Europe, where the banking group offers its financial services. On the other hand, we invest parts of our dividends into the growth of the Erste Group. The independence and growth of Erste Group safeguards the future of its major shareholder and its commitment to the common good.
Erste Group was founded in 1819 as the first Austrian savings bank (‘Erste Oesterreichische Spar-Casse’). As was ERSTE Foundation. In the beginning, they were one. After 1993, the savings bank had two successors: the legal one, ERSTE Foundation, and the operational one, Erste Bank (later Erste Group).
In 1997, Erste Group went public with a strategy to expand its retail business into Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Since then, Erste Group’s customer base has grown through numerous acquisitions and organic growth from 600,000 to 15.8 million. 95 % of all clients are citizens of the European Union. Their EU membership gives the countries of the region a stable regulatory framework that supports their economic development. Today, Erste Group is one of the largest financial services providers in Central and Eastern Europe in terms of clients and total assets. It has always focused on retail and SME banking.