Awards for Excellence 1999: Central and eastern Europe
Central and eastern Europe
Best bank: Raiffeisen Zentralbank Oesterreich
Highly commended: Citigroup
Best securities firm: CA IB Investmentbank
Because of the Russia crisis, all banks and securities houses in central and eastern Europe have suffered at least a decline in business volume, if not a severe shock. So picking the winners this year has been about picking survivors, and those that rest on a solid business base.
Two other trends are sweeping the region: consolidation and foreign control, to the extent that there is little distinction any more in some countries between domestic banks and domestic banks with foreign ownership.
Picking the region's top bank is fraught with difficulty. Should it be the bank that is utterly committed to the region and is aiming to become the leading bank there, or should it be the bank that, more than any other, connects the main countries of the region with the rest of the world?
If it is the latter Citigroup wins hands-down, as it probably does in every region of the world. With the added corporate finance skills of Salomon Smith Barney, Citibank's coverage is unique.