Two factors underpin SEBs success: it is well capitalized and better able to accommodate Swedish regulatory demands for higher tier 1 capital under Basle III. Nordea was left trailing, according to UBS analysts, because it has been forced to reverse its aggressive, pro-growth strategy to build up its capital base, symbolized by a focus on return on equity.
SEBs RoE for the second quarter of 2011 is 11.6%, compared with 7.5% a year before: a bigger improvement than Nordeas, whose RoE stands at 12% for the same quarter, against 9.3% last year.
The turnaround in the Baltics economic fortunes has also given SEB a fillip. When the region was teetering on the brink of devaluation and default, SEBs considerable exposure about 10% of its loan book was held by Baltic clients was a drain on its balance sheet. But with the regions economies revitalized, this exposure is contributing to the banks profits, and the cost of its funding has reduced accordingly. This is a boon in which Nordea does not share.
SEB has also been helped by the sale of a poorly performing retail bank in Germany. Analysts report that it is using the proceeds to strengthen its wholesale presence across the Nordic region as well as to boost its return on equity. Again, Nordea has not had these advantages.
Additionally, SEB has been particularly strong in corporate activity, although this has been a sluggish sector over the past year. An orientation towards transaction-based business ensures that SEB has 90% of the Swedish M&A market.
SEBs final winning attribute fell into place in December 2010, when it became the first Nordic bank, and one of the first international institutions, to provide cash management, trade finance and foreign exchange services in offshore Chinese renminbi.
The winner of this years best investment bank award for the region is Morgan Stanley. It has played a part in the regions largest and most important mergers and acquisitions and equity capital market deals and has by far the highest volume of completed deals: 13, compared with eight for the next-largest contender, JPMorgan.
Morgan Stanley ranks top in completed M&As and second in the ECM leagues. Among the past years highlights were Danish telecom operator TDCs sale of its Swiss subsidiary Sunrise and the Central Bank of Icelands sale of Danish bank FIH.
Morgan Stanley also took part in Swedish investment bank Carnegies acquisition of HQ Bank and HQ Fonder. Also involving Morgan Stanley were the 1.4 billion re-initial public offering of TDC, which was the largest European telecom IPO since Belgacoms in 2004, and the 1.5 billion IPO of internet radio company Pandora.
Best debt house
Deutsche was also involved in the biggest Nordic and Baltic corporate bonds of the past year: TDCs 2.25 billion-equivalent financing in February; the first international hybrid since 2005, Dong Energys 700 million issue in January; and the first ever European hybrid liability management, Dongs 500 million tender, also in January.
The bank issued the first Icelandic bond since the crisis, Landsvirkjuns $100 million deal in September 2010, which increased to $150 million, as well as the largest yankee bond from the region: Statoils $2 billion financing in August, split between a $1.25 billion seven-year and a $750 million 30-year issue.
Best equity house
It participated in six of the 10 largest Nordic bookbuildings during the period under review (April 1 2010 to March 31 2011) and was the sole Nordic selling agent and the only investment bank besides Goldman Sachs involved in the Skr28 billion ($4.4 billion) accelerated bookbuild in Volvo the largest Nordic ABB ever.
Best M&A house
Best cash management house
It has the largest integrated cash-management network in Europe and covers 34 countries (29 European countries, Canada, China, India, Singapore and the US). Its network provides a single point of entry for sales and support in all participating countries. The infrastructure is the only one in Europe that can transfer liquidity across the continent on the same day. The bank recently opened a branch in Hong Kong and has put corporate support into operation in China.