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Leading figures from the banking and capital markets world gathered in London on Thursday to hear the announcement of Euromoney’s Awards for Excellence 2015, considered the benchmark for leading firms in financial services globally.
UniCredit took the title of best bank in Central and Eastern Europe from long-time holder Raiffeisen.
Euromoney notes: “UniCredit not only made a handsome profit from its regional operation last year but also announced plans to expand its network at a time when others are pulling back.”
Geographical diversification has played a notable role in maintaining UniCredit’s profitability. The Italian bank is the largest of the regional players, with operations in 14 countries including growth markets such as Poland, Turkey, Czech Republic and Slovakia.
“A focus on the corporate sector in Hungary and Russia has also spared UniCredit much of the pain inflicted on its more retail-oriented peers,” says Euromoney.
“UniCredit’s success has not just been about being in the right place, and the right segment, at the right time,” Euromoney adds. “The CEE division has worked hard over the past four years to deal with the legacy of the financial crisis and improve efficiency. As a result, UniCredit is now well-positioned to take advantage of the retreat of other foreign lenders from the region.”
On the investment banking side, Citi continues to stand head and shoulders above its competitors.
“Thanks to its unrivalled CEE network – comprising nearly 100 bankers in 10 countries from Poland to Kazakhstan, as well as a large team in its London CEEMEA hub – the US house was able once again to top both the debt and equity league tables,” notes Euromoney.
It was not all about volume, however. Citi worked on a slew of landmark bond deals across the full range of sectors and jurisdictions, as well as a pair of rare regional IPOs and the largest-ever accelerated bookbuild in the Turkish market.
“Citi also maintained a strong presence in M&A, racking up more deals in CEE than any of its global competitors,” adds Euromoney.
UBS was named best equity house. “Unlike its global investment banking rivals, many of which have been scaling back in CEE since the start of the Ukrainian crisis, UBS has grown its franchise in the region over the past 18 months,” notes Euromoney.
A focus on frontier markets also helped UBS win two mandates in Georgia.
On the debt capital markets side, the award went to UniCredit for a strong performance that saw it jump up the league tables. “The award also recognizes UniCredit’s leading role in the increasingly important local currency bond markets across CEE,” says Euromoney.
Other regional award winners included Rothschild. “For the second time in three years, Rothschild’s impressive regional reach and ability to maintain deal flow in challenging markets earn the advisory-only house the award for M&A,” notes Euromoney.
The country awards included several tightly fought contests in highly competitive markets.
In Turkey, Akbank narrowly retained its best bank title. “Superior lending growth, cost efficiency and asset quality, as well as its impressive ability to respond to changing market and regulatory dynamics, earned Akbank the award,” says Euromoney.
In Czech Republic, CSOB earned the best bank award for a second year despite stiff competition. “CSOB recorded a faster pace of lending growth than its closest rivals, expanding its loan book by 8.0% in the awards period,” notes Euromoney. “The bank also continues to lead the market in innovation and technology.”
BZ WBK was named best bank in the equally competitive Polish market. Euromoney notes that the Santander subsidiary was judged to have delivered “the best all-round performance across metrics including customer attraction, innovation and efficiency”.
Profitability and cost efficiency were also differentiating factors. “BZ WBK posted a return on equity of 14.4% and a sector-beating cost-income ratio of 38.8%,” adds Euromoney. “The bank also impressed with its ability to maintain and even increase its net interest margin in the face of historically low interest rates.”
Privredna banka Zagreb, a subsidiary of Italy’s Intesa Sanpaolo, won the best bank in Croatia award for the third year in succession, while Erste’s Slovenska sporitelna held on to the award for Slovakia. Raiffeisen subsidiaries were named best bank in Belarus, Romania and Serbia.
In Kazakhstan, Halyk Bank regained the best bank title after a three-year gap. Asset quality was a particular strength. “Halyk Bank succeeded in slashing its NPL ratio by 5.4pp last year, thanks to a combination of debt write-offs, recoveries and strong loan growth,” notes Euromoney. “Profitability was also excellent, both in 2014 and the first quarter of 2015.”
Local houses were well-represented in the country awards for investment banking. InterCapital Securities was named best investment bank in Croatia, while Concorde Securities took the title in Hungary. PKO BP Securities, the investment banking arm of Poland’s biggest bank, won the country award for equity capital markets.
Central & Eastern Europe and Baltics Regional Awards for Excellence
|Best bank||Best investment bank|
|Best debt house||Best equity house|
|Best M&A house||Best risk adviser|
|Best transaction services house|
Country Awards for Excellence
NOTES TO EDITORS
A full list of winners of Euromoney’s Awards for Excellence 2015, as well as detailed citations for all of the winners, is available on our website from 23:30 BST on Thursday, July 9, at the conclusion of our Awards Dinner in London..
Euromoney’s award decisions are made by a committee of senior journalists, chaired by Euromoney’s editor, following the receipt of detailed submissions from market participants and extensive year-round research into the banking and capital markets in the region by our editors, journalists and research team.
For more information on the CEE awards, contact:
Emerging Europe editor