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Awards for Excellence 2003: Canada

Best bank - Royal Bank of Canada
Best debt house - RBC Dominion Securities
Best equity house - CIBC

The announcement at the end of last month by Canadian finance minister John Manley that banks shouldn't even consider domestic mergers before September next year condemns the big five to even more of the same. And for domestic capital markets, that pretty much guarantees yet more block trades and low margins as the banks use their balance sheets to win business. "It's not about quality of distribution up there, it's just about market share," says a disgruntled senior US banker.

Little, then, has changed over the past 12 months. Canada's economy has still been performing better than its neighbour's, and capital markets business still revolves largely around restructuring the power and telecoms sectors. Airlines and media have also proffered business. But more and more is being conducted outside the domestic markets: last year, according to the Bank of Canada, more than 50% of corporate issuance was raised in currencies other than the Canadian dollar, areas where foreign banks usually claim the advantage.

Domestically, though, it's the usual suspects slogging it out, although participants have noticed Scotiabank Capital Markets becoming more aggressive; it has been a top three underwriter of Canadian equities in the past year or so.

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