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Finland

BEST BANK   
Nordea

BEST DEBT HOUSE
Merrill Lynch

BEST EQUITY HOUSE
Nordea

BEST M&A HOUSE
Nordea

Nordea Bank Finland's $151 billion of assets are almost three times the $52 billion of second-placed bank OP, whose operating profit fell, according to the Bank of Finland.

Nordea Bank Finland recorded a 35% return on equity in 2004 – down on the previous year's 44% – but still a significant achievement. And as part of a drive to maximize efficiency, it completed its sale of real estate across the Nordic region.

Although Merrill Lynch was not involved in the largest debt deal of the year from Finland, the €1 billion issue for Okobank, it was number one in the league table, with an 11.21% market share, compared with JPMorgan on 9.34%.

Merrill Lynch was also bookrunner – along with Deutsche Bank – on paper manufacturer Metso's €274 million ($335 million) bond issue and exchange in November 2004, which enabled it to lengthen its maturity profile at a very low cost and with no covenants, despite being a high-yield issuer. The deal was a huge success and achieved one of the highest conversion rates ever for a bond exchange: 62%.

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