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Raiffeisen to cut a fifth of staff in Poland by end of 2019

Raiffeisen Bank International , which recently decided to restructure its Polish division rather than sell it, said on Monday it would lay off a fifth of its staff in Poland by the end of 2019.

Poland’s Alior Bank in December pulled out of exclusive talks to buy Raiffeisen Bank Polska IPO-RBP.WA, after which Raiffeisen said it would hold onto the bank while also floating 15 percent on the Warsaw bourse, as required by Poland.

The Polish government has been pushing to reduce foreign ownership of the country’s banks to gain more control over the economy. In December, for example, Italian bank UniCredit agreed to sell a stake in Polish bank Pekao to Polish insurer PZU and development fund PFR.

Outlining its restructuring plans, Raiffeisen said in a statement it planned to close 60-70 branches in Poland by 2018 as well as launch “cost-saving initiatives” of around 50 million euros ($53 million) and cut 850-950 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs by the end of 2019, it said in a statement.

The Polish business, which is also known as Polbank, had 4,242 employees and 299 branches at the end of last year. Based on those figures, the layoffs represent roughly 20-22 percent of the workforce, and at least a fifth of branches will close.

“Up to 90 branches will be converted to cost-efficient formats by the end of 2019,” the company said. A spokeswoman said that mainly meant being downsized.

The project’s restructuring costs were estimated at 10 million euros and would be booked in the first half of this year, the company added. ($1 = 0.9445 euros) (Reporting by Francois Murphy and Alexandra Schwarz-Goerlich; Editing by Shadia Nasralla and Jane Merriman)

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