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Regional Awards for Excellence 2014: Western Europe

Best bank in western Europe

After five years of balkanization of the European banking system, with many national champions abandoning international ambitions, selling out of positions that commanded little share in foreign markets to repatriate capital that domestic regulators have pressured them to conserve close to home, there are hardly any European banks left worthy of the name.

It’s slightly odd that one of the last standing should come from a peripheral eurozone country, Spain, and be perhaps best known for its international diversification into Latin America.

But Santander is an unusual bank: unique in having a credit rating higher than its domestic sovereign and with few peers in having built a diversification of group exposures and earnings through a network of separately capitalized subsidiaries, several publicly quoted on stock markets outside Spain.