Awards for Excellence 1999: Nordic region
Best bank: Svenska Handelsbanken
Best foreign bank: Citigroup
Best securities firm: Alfred Berg
As Nordic banks recognize the need to increase their size and competitiveness if they are to survive in the global market, they are increasingly adopting a regional strategy. Some major cross-border players are beginning to emerge. Den Danske Bank of Denmark's 1997 acquisition of Östgöta Enskilda Banken in southern Sweden has given it a 2% share of the Swedish market. Although this is a small presence in Sweden overall, in the southern parts of the country Den Danske Bank is beginning to chip away at Swedbank's customer base.
The MeritaNordbanken group is still finding its feet after the cross-border merger last year of two leading Finnish and Swedish banks. It has publicly stated its intention to find Danish and Norwegian merger partners to create a major Nordic financial institution. It is thought that the tie-up in Denmark would be with Unibank, and that Christiania Bank is the likely partner in Norway. There has been little progress in realizing these ambitions, but if deals can be struck the MeritaNordbanken group could become the region's leading force.