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Central & eastern Europe

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The Austrian powerhouses continue to make considerable investments in the region. Salomon Smith Barney is the most successful M&A house. Simon Brady, David Shirreff

Best domestic bank: Bulbank
Best foreign bank: Raiffeisenbank Bulgaria
Best domestic securities house: Bulbank
Best foreign securities house: Raiffeisenbank Bulgaria
Best foreign M&A house: CA IB Investmentbank
Bulbank is Bulgaria's largest commercial bank, with a 27% share of the assets of the banking system. It also accounts for around 50% of banking profits. During 1999 the bank continued to expand, achieving a return on assets of 3.2% compared with 2.3% in 1998. Its return on equity improved to 15.6% from 12.4%.
Its BIS capital adequacy ratio is a high 43% but that is mostly because its government-risk assets are weighted at zero and its deposits with international banks at 20%. During the year Bulbank grew its loan portfolio by 76% but this represented an increase of only 10% in its total assets.

The volatility of the bank's portfolio became evident in 1998...