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Best bank
Banco Provincial Best debt house

Of the three leading banks in Venezuela, two are foreign ? Santander?s Banco de Venezuela and BBVA?s Banco Provincial ? and one, Banco Mercantil, is domestically owned. All three have been struggling under the regime of president Hugo Chávez, in the context of an economy that shrank 10% in 2003. At the moment, the health of the banking industry is largely decided by the capricious president.

Banco Provincial seems to have made the very best of the hand it was dealt. The 2003 numbers would be unbelievable anywhere but Venezuela: net income of $182 million, generating a return on assets, in bolivars, of 6.6%, and a return on equity of 64.3%. And those ratios increased even further in the first quarter of 2004.

Banco Provincial not only makes more money than any other bank in Venzuela, it also ranks number one in terms of total assets, total deposits, and total number of clients (2.5 million).

CSFB wins the award for best debt house in Venezuela because it helped design a liability management exercise in July, and was the first bank on Wall Street to start dealing with the Venezuelan government.

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