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USA

Best bank
Bank of America Best M&A
Goldman Sachs

Best equities house
Morgan Stanley

Best bond house
Citigroup

For the third year running, Bank of America wins the best US bank award. Its chief contender is Wells Fargo, which last year was elevated to triple-A status, the only US bank that has the top credit rating. Wells Fargo’s management team enjoys a good reputation in the eyes of investors, and its rivals regard it as a serious competitor.

But Bank of America offers greater coverage across the US as well as more products. Its cash management business is the top franchise in the US, whereas Wells Fargo is more of a regional player. BofA is also one of the top three syndicated loan arrangers in the country, behind JPMorgan and Citigroup. Its investment-banking franchise, meanwhile, is now a more entrenched business than some gave it credit for a year or two ago.

Its not all rosy, though: investors and competitors continue to wonder why the bank has not put more of an effort into becoming a bigger foreign exchange player. And investors weren’t best pleased with the price BofA paid for FleetBoston last year. Former sell-side analyst turned investor Tom Brown returned to the BofA bashing ways that he had set aside a couple of years back, mentioning among other things what he describes as the inability of the bank effectively to integrate its various retail banking platforms from previous mergers.

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