EU backs 90-billion-euro Austrian bank rescue plan

Brussels - The European Union on Wednesday approved an Austrian plan to support the country's banking sector valued at 90 billion euros (116 billion dollars).

The plan, originally approved by the Austrian parliament on October 20, consists of a state guarantee for interbank loans capped at 75 billion euros, and a further guarantee for liabilities and assets capped at 15 billion euros.

The Austrian government informed the European Commission, the EU's executive, of its plans at the end of October.

The commission is tasked with overseeing the EU's strict competition rules, and therefore has the final say in matters of state aid.

After a series of "intensive" negotiations aimed at making sure that the package did not give unfair advantages to Austrian banks and that it would expire once the financial crisis is over, commission officials decided that the package satisfied EU rules.

"After intensive negotiations, the Austrian scheme has become a comprehensive tool for stabilising the financial sector ... I am confident that the scheme will help providing credit to the real economy," EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said in a statement.

Kroes had initially said that the commission would approve the scheme on Monday, but the size and complexity of the plan meant that it took commission experts longer than predicted to approve it. (dpa)

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