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Portugal

Best bank
Banco Totta e Açores Best debt house
Deutsche Bank

Best equities house
Banco Espírito Santo

Best M&A house
Banco Espírito Santo

Best local partner
Banco Finantia

A recession in Portugal has made business difficult for all the country?s banking groups, but they have all adapted to new business conditions and demonstrated their resilience.

Of the big banks, Totta has shown the best efficiency, despite being much smaller than some of its rivals. It reported a return on equity of 18.9% in 2003. A good deal of this comes from the streamlining and efficiency effort that the bank undertook about two years ago. This has enabled it to grow without needing to raise capital or rebrand, as the newly named Millennium BCP has done. The firm has kept costs and NPLs low. Growth areas for the next 12 months are likely to be credit cards, mortgages and investment funds.

The award for best debt house is a tough call between Deutsche Bank and ABN Amro, both of which enjoyed a highly successful year in the bond market. Citigroup also deserves praise for its role as the sole arranger and sole bookrunner in Explorer ? Portugal?s largest ever public ABS deal.

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