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Emerging markets 250 2001: China takes top four as Latin banks keep consolidating

This year’s ranking of the largest 250 emerging-market banks indicates that China’s banks are still way ahead of their rivals in terms of size. Citigroup’s acquisition of Banamex will give impetus to consolidation in Latin America where banks will need sheer size to survive. Few of the handful of east European banks in the tables are expected to be still there in 2002. By Andrew Newby, with data from Moody’s Investors Service.

Emerging-economy bond and equity markets have rallied and then slumped this year in line with expectations about the depth and duration of the global slowdown.

"The slowdown in the US has so far had a minor impact in Asia, when many doomsayers were predicting worse," says Nicholas Krasno, senior vice-president for Moodys Asia/Pacific bank ratings. "Recovery from 1997-98, nominal stability, hasn't changed much. What you have now is lots of liquidity sloshing round in domestic currencies in banks which won't lend."

Taiwan has no fewer than 41 banks in the top 250. Asset quality is poor and legislation is planned to encourage consolidation by allowing private banks to buy public banks. Taiwan's government has been concerned with the brake on Taiwan's regional competitiveness presented by a highly crowded and inefficient banking sector. In March three state-run banks, Bank of Taiwan, Land Bank of Taiwan and the Central Trust of China approved a merger to form the largest bank on the island, commanding 20% of total deposits and loans.

Consolidation in Taiwan will also be driven by the effects of a sharp downturn. In June a double-digit year-on-year decline in orders from all Taiwan's major export markets was announced and, as a double whammy, unemployment in the same period doubled.

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