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Argentina

BEST BANK
Banco Río

BEST DEBT HOUSE
ABN Amro

BEST M&A HOUSE
JPMorgan

For the first time since 2001, Euromoney has made a best bank award in Argentina. That does not mean that the banking system has recovered from the crisis that hit the country at the end of 2001; far from it. Most banks are still insolvent – only one, so far, has managed to post non-negative net income. That is Banco Río, owned by Spain's Santander.

Banco Río has a bigger retail footprint than any other bank in Argentina: 2.2 million accounts from 1.3 million customers. It has led the way in restarting the lending business in Argentina, first with mortgages and, more recently, with lower interest rates on credit cards and car loans. It also has more corporate accounts than any other bank, including Citibank.

Meanwhile, ABN Amro has quietly been building a strong debt franchise in Argentina. The Dutch bank, which has been in the country for the past 90 years, perfectly timed its exit from retail banking there, mere months before the default, and has been concentrating on corporate debt ever since.

Few Argentine companies are able to tap the international bond markets, but ABN Amro was the bookrunner on local bond issues for Ford Credit, electricity company Edesur and gas generator Camuzzi over the past year.

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