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Awards for excellence - Best bank

Awards for Excellence 2005


No bank is better at retail banking than Santander

Emilio Botín

Traditionally, Euromoney's award for the world's best bank goes to one of the powerhouses that are present across the globe, with strong wholesale banking businesses that complement other strengths in areas such as private banking or fund management. This year, the award goes to a bank that concentrates largely on the less glamorous side of finance – retail banking. Its business has changed beyond recognition over the past decade, to become one of the world's 10 largest financial institutions by market capitalization.  And it is no exaggeration to claim that this bank has played a fundamental role in changing the landscape in global retail banking.

Who would have thought 20 years ago that Santander, then the sixth-largest bank in Spain and the 152nd-largest in the world, would be the first European bank to complete a major cross-border acquisition? That's exactly what it achieved in the second half of 2004, with the £8.5 billion ($15.5 billion) takeover of Abbey, the UK's sixth-largest bank.

The Abbey deal showed that barriers to cross-border banking in Europe were not insurmountable.