Austrian "bad bank" felled by Balkan trouble, Swiss franc surge
* Audit shows bad bank overvalued by nearly half
* Worst-case assumptions were grossly overoptimistic
* No sign that balance sheet was falsified - regulator
* Finance minister relieved "dramatic" facts are now in the open
By Michael Shields
VIENNA, March 3 (Reuters) - Among the "bad banks" that have emerged since the global crisis, Austria's Heta Asset Resolution stands out as a spectacular failure, brought down by setbacks ranging from the demands of accounting rules to ailing Balkan economies and a Swiss decision to let the franc surge.
Questions are swirling over how things could have gone so wrong so quickly at Heta, carved out just last year from the lender Hypo Alpe Adria whose demise has already caused Austria's worst post-war financial scandal.
Now Heta has revealed a capital hole of 7.6 billion euros ($8.5 billion), making supervisors take control this week and suspend its debt payments.
Other bad banks, notably in Ireland, have taken over assets from troubled lenders based on worst-case scenarios and sold many off at higher prices. But with Heta, which holds the assets of just one lender rather than a range as in Ireland or Spain, worst-case assumptions have proved grossly overoptimistic. Continuación...