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Things may get better in Bavaria

Rampl: "We're going through all our
businesses and asking 'do they make
money, do they fit our future, or not?"

"I wish my last year had been in better times," sighs Albrecht Schmidt, soon-to-be ex-CEO of HypoVereinsbank, over lunch in a London restaurant. "There's still so much to do." Officially Schmidt is still CEO until January - the changeover was bought forward from May to pacify investors - but when Euromoney meets him in mid-November, he's already handed over day-to-day responsibility to the new CEO Dieter Rampl. Schmidt now spends his time shuttling between Munich, Brussels and London in his job as an ambassador for the Munich Finanzplatz.

He's right that HVB still has a huge amount to achieve before investors take it seriously again. But at least there are analysts and bankers who still believe the bank has a fighting chance of survival. "HVB will eventually be the number one German bank," says one analyst. That's partly by default - Deutsche Bank is no longer truly German, Dresdner is part of an insurer and Commerzbank has become a perennial takeover target.

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