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Austria

BEST BANK
RZB- Austria

BEST DEBT HOUSE
CSFB

BEST EQUITY HOUSE
Merrill Lynch

BEST M&A HOUSE
Deutsche Bank

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The three largest Austrian banks have proved their mettle in a challenging economic environment. Bank Austria Creditanstalt increased its profits in 2004 by 36%, largely through its activities in central and eastern Europe, and Erste Bank der Österreicheischen Sparkassen achieved a pre-tax profit of more than €1 billion, nearly 40% up on the previous year.

But Raiffeisen Zentralbank Österreich was the best of the bunch. Although its total profits lag those of Bank Austria Creditanstalt, RZB's 106% pre-tax profit increase cannot be ignored. Its pre-tax return on equity was 27.4% in 2004, compared with 13.4% at Bank Austria Creditanstalt.

The Raiffeisen banking group has its fair share of the Austrian retail market. And it successfully prepared and executed the IPO of Raiffeisen International Bank-Holding, which directs its CEE business. The deal priced at €32.50, just 50 cents below the top of the range and at a premium to 2005 estimates, and was 20 times oversubscribed. The shares traded up 27% in the aftermarket.

RZB was the second most active bookrunner of Austrian equity issues in the 12 months up to May 2005, behind Merrill Lynch, and was one of only two local banks in Dealogic's top 20 bookrunners for the same period.

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