Awards for Excellence 1999: Latin America
Best bank: Citigroup
Best debt underwriter: Morgan Stanley Dean Witter
Best M&A firm: Merrill Lynch
Best securities firm: Santander Investment
It's been a dull year for commercial banks across the region but an exciting time for cross-border activity. These two trends are not unrelated. As economies stumble and domestic banks feel the backwash, long-term investors in Latin America see it as an opportune moment to strike a deal.
Merrill Lynch, which wins the award for best M&A firm in Latin America, has advised on a number of the most interesting deals including the acquisition by Spanish oil company Repsol of the remaining 85.01% of YPF, the Argentine oil company, that it doesn't already own. Merrill also advised Spanish company Endesa in its successful battle to control Chilean utility Enersis and French steel company Usinor in its purchase of controlling stakes in Brazilian steel companies Acesita and CST.
What these deals all have in common is that foreigners now own strategic firms in Latin America, an idea which would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.