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Best bank
Bank of Ireland Best debt house
Barclays Capital

Best equities house
Morgan Stanley

Best M&A house
Merrill Lynch

But embarrassment aside, Soden?s departure does not directly damage Bank of Ireland?s business. It is a leaner firm now than it had been in the past, having sold some non-core holdings, such as stakes in a trust and custody joint venture and a credit card transaction processing firm. It offers a better ROE than AIB, and is ranked number three for loans. The group?s corporate advisory arm, IBI Corporate Finance, plays an important role for local firms, and Davy Stockbrokers, which is also part of the group, is central to local securities trading.

Eircom was the key corporate that the big international banks sought to impress in 2003. Barclays Capital, the country?s best debt house, was a joint bookrunner in several areas of the firm?s e2.4 billion refinancing. It was also the joint lead manager on a $1 billion private placement for Electricity Supply Board ? the largest deal of its kind for an Irish utility.

Eircom?s IPO in March 2004 was the first in Ireland since 2000. Morgan Stanley, the country?s best equities house, was one of the banks involved in that deal.

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