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Western Europe - Best sovereign borrower

Finland

Two years ago Finland was languishing as a euro sovereign borrower, with no real international profile and excessive reliance on domestic debt. Its bonds were illiquid and traded at wide spreads to the eurozone core. With a series of well-marketed deals, though, it has steadily tightened spreads until it now trades at or even through Germany, while building up an enthusiastic following among investors worldwide.

Says one senior banker in debt capital markets: "Finland only has one or two bullets a year to shoot, so each issue has to be a success. It has done remarkably well at creating excitement around its deals. In two years it has moved from being a small, peripheral market that nobody really cared about to being the darling of European sovereign investors."

Or, as another senior banker in debt capital markets puts it: "Finland has had a phenomenal run of success. The syndicated deals have propelled it from near the back to near the front."

While other issuers, such as Austria, Belgium and Spain, have achieved notable successes over the year, none of them has engendered the same excitement with its syndications as Finland.

Upgrade benefits The sovereign's return to the dollar market in February 2002 benefited from its upgrade to AAA from S&P.

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