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US banks show size advantage

Falling stock markets in the past 18 months have affected the share prices of financial institutions of all sizes and from all countries. But the effects have been uneven. A comparison of the shifting market capitalizations of the world's leading financial institutions from March 2001 to March 2002 makes surprising reading.


MARKET CAPITALIZATION MAY be a crude and volatile measure but it is a closely watched barometer of performance for senior executives and investors alike. And shifts in relative market capitalization may provide useful clues to future M&A activity in global financial services. Citigroup tops the rankings, with a market capitalization at the end of the first quarter of this year of $255 billion putting it in a class of its own. It is worth more than double its closest banking rivals, HSBC and Bank of America, which have market capitalizations of $108 billion and $104 billion respectively.

Indeed the financial institution with the market capitalization closest to Citigroup isn't a bank but an insurance company, AIG (American International Group). Its market capitalization of $188 billion is still $67 billion below Citigroup's - that difference being equivalent to the values of Fannie Mae, UBS, or Lloyds TSB, which all rank among the worlds' top 10 banks.

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