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China

Best bank
ICBC

Best equities house
Morgan Stanley

Best debt house
China International Capital Corporation

Best M&A house
JPMorgan

Financially, subject to the usual caveat associated with financial numbers produced by mainland Chinese banks, ICBC remains in relative financial health. Operating profit increased in 2003 to Rmb63.5 billion ($7.7 billion). Its non-performing loan ratio of 21.24% was down from 25.41% the previous year. According to the bank, estimated NPLs are in line with auditor Ernst & Young?s figures. ICBC appears set to weather the impending slowdown in China, managed or otherwise.

Equity issuance in the second half of 2003 and into the first quarter of 2004 showed tremendous growth over the corresponding period the previous year, widening the pool of candidates for the best equities house award. A number of houses gained footholds in China through large one-off IPO mandates.

Although it did not raise the most capital, Morgan Stanley wins the award since it completed more issues than most of its competitors and executed mandates of a higher quality. The one slip-up was of course the Tom Online transaction, which Morgan Stanley ran jointly with Citigroup. The first ever GEM/Nasdaq listing, it was launched amidst a Hong Kong retail IPO feeding frenzy and was widely panned as taking the shine off the IPO market when it performed poorly in the aftermarket.

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