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Slovenia

BEST BANK
Nova Ljubljanska banka

BEST DEBT HOUSE
Nova Ljubljanska banka

Belgian banking group KBC, a major shareholder in Nova Ljubljanska banka (NLB), has had problems in the past with the bank's management and IT system. It has now upgraded both, and the bank is performing well. It made Tr13.8 billion ($70.5 million) in profit before tax in 2004, up 25% on 2003. Assets grew by 8%, and the bank achieved 44% growth in lending to smaller companies and 52% growth in its international credit portfolio.

The bank has also begun expanding in the Balkans. It bought the fifth-biggest bank in Montenegro in April, and its subsidiary in Macedonia recently set up a pension fund business there. It will be interesting to see if KBC can afford to expand the bank into Serbia and Croatia.

NLB also wins our best debt house award. It has been a leader in domestic corporate bond issues, and also has a 10% share of the loan market, in which Bank Austria/HVB is the leader.

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