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Investment banking volumes in CEE took another hit in the awards period as Russian sanctions, rising political risk in Poland and Turkey and high levels of local liquidity kept both issuers and investors on the sidelines. International bond sales fell by almost a third year on year to just $42.7 billion, according to Dealogic, while primary equity activity all but disappeared. With the exception of a trio of semi-private Russian deals, just three IPOs worth more than $50 million emerged from the whole region in the 12 months to March, while total ECM issuance came in at just $3 billion. M&A appeared to be a slightly brighter spot, with volumes rising by 16.1% to $98.9 billion. That increase, however, was accounted for by a couple of large Russian take-privates and a transfer of assets between two Kazakh state-owned entities.

Despite the paucity of deal flow, however, few investment banks seemed ready to abandon the region, and competition remained strong. Such transactions as did emerge were fiercely fought over, with bulge-bracket banks pitted against big European houses with regional commercial banking operations, such as UniCredit and Société Générale.

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