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Italy

BEST BANK
UniCredit

BEST DEBT HOUSE
Lehman Brothers

BEST EQUITY HOUSE
Mediobanca

BEST M&A HOUSE
Lazard

UniCredit is the most profitable of the major Italian banks, boasting a higher return on equity than its nearest rival, Banca Intesa, and the greatest net income of any Italian bank. The bank also has a strong investment banking franchise in the form of Unicredit Banca Mobiliare, which leads the syndicated loan league tables and is the number two Italian bank in equity capital markets.

UniCredit also distinguishes itself from its peers through having built up a successful international business in central and eastern Europe. And if UniCredit's takeover of HVB comes off, UniCredit's operations in the region in combination with those of HVB's Bank Austria subsidiary could make it the premier banking group there.

Lehman Brothers narrowly beats UBS to take the best debt house award. Lehman has a strong position in Italian corporate issues, working on such deals as Telecom Italia's debut sterling issue, at £850 million ($1.55 billion) the largest sterling telecom deal ever. Lehman has also been particularly strong in the asset-backed and covered bond market, working on Italy's first-ever covered bond issue for client CDP.

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