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Awards for excellence - Australia

Best bank

Commonwealth Bank of Australia

Best equities house

UBS Warburg

Best debt house

Citigroup / Salomon Smith Barney

Best M&A house

UBS Warburg

Since bank bashing has become something of a national sport, Australian banks are getting more customer focused and improving their customer service. At the same time they are trying to reduce costs. In anyone's books that's not an easy balance to strike. And on top of this, there has been a deterioration in commercial and corporate lending, although consumer lending remains steady. In an effort to increase customer loyalty the banks are offering ever more products, with some diversifying into bancassurance and more fee based products, most notably Commonwealth Bank of Australia and National Australia Bank. Of the two, CBA stands out and not least because it was involved in the largest domestic take-over in Australia's history when it bought Colonial Ltd for $5.9 billion.

CBA's management is described by analysts as a "combination of older bankers mixed in with newer guys to provide an all round better blend." One competitor however called them a bunch of boy scouts.

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