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Venezuela

BEST BANK
Banco Mercantil

BEST DEBT HOUSE
Deutsche Bank

Venezuela's banks are highly profitable: Santander's Banco de Venezuela made $200 million in 2004, while BBVA's Banco Provincial and locally owned Banco Mercantil both made $185 million.

All three banks make money only insofar as president Hugo Chávez lets them, however, and in that Mercantil might have something of an advantage: it wins the close-run race for best bank in Venezuela because it has much less direct sovereign exposure than the other two banks.

The best debt house award goes to Deutsche Bank, largely on the strength of an excellent euro-denominated deal for the country in March of this year.

The A1 billion 10-year deal was sold 34% into the UK, but also found favour in the US, which picked up 24% of the bonds. Deutsche also acted as dealer manager for state oil company PDVSA in its buy-back of $2.6 billion of its outstanding bonds.

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