BEST DEBT HOUSE
BEST M&A HOUSE
Fortis Bank is still the number one bank in Belgium, increasing its 2004 profits by 53% to €3.4 billion. It also grew its return on equity from 19% to 26%. On the retail side, it clearly differentiates between its customers, and private clients now receive an integrated service. It has also made enhancements to its internet banking offering. The investment-banking arm closed several high-profile structured deals last year and it remains a dominant force in the loan market.
In debt, Deutsche Bank outstripped all other leading banks with a number of deals. It was involved with every issue by the Kingdom of Belgium in 2004 and 2005, including its first 30-year OLO since the birth of the euro. Despite the low level of corporate issuance, Deutsche participated in some successful transactions, including the €450 million five-year syndication for Umicore and Solvay's €850 million seven-year syndication.
There was very little primary equity activity in Belgium in the year, so the best equity house award has not been made.
M&A activity in Belgium picked up during 2004 and although Goldman Sachs did not advise on the most deals, it sits comfortably at the top of the league table by total volume.