Awards for Excellence: Nordic region
Awards of Excellence: Best in the world
Awards for Excellence: North America
Awards for Excellence: Latin America
Awards for Excellence: Middle East
Best bank: Citibank
Highly recommended: Deutsche Bank
Best securities firm: Alfred Berg
At SE Banken's annual general meeting new CEO Lars Thunell identified consolidation as the key to continued success. As elsewhere, this is the story of Nordic financial services, though the bancasssurance theme is much stronger than in the rest of Europe. Nordic banks are highly active in the insurance markets - Den Danske through Danica, BG Bank (formed in 1995 from the merger of Sparekassen Bikuben and GiroBank) through Topdanmark, Den norske Bank with Vital, MeritaNordbanken with Sampo and Pohjola, and SE Banken through newly acquired Trygg-Hansa.
That deal followed October's acquisition of Finland's Merita Bank by Sweden's Nordbanken, Svenska Handelsbanken's purchase of Stadshypotek in December 1996 and the acquisition of Föreningsbanken by Sparbanken Sverige in February this year. Union Bank of Norway has also signed a bancassurance agreement with insurance company Gjensidige to create a new group, Gjensidige NOR.
These mergers, and the consequent creation of regional powerhouses, may threaten Citibank's position as best regional player.