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BRD – Groupe Société Générale

Bank Austria/HVB

Ernst & Young

BRD – Groupe Société Générale had a very good year in 2004, with net income up 55%, and a return on equity of 30%, one of the highest in the region. As with its Czech subsidiary Kommercni, Société Générale has concentrated on the fast-growing consumer lending market, setting up a specialist consumer finance company in Romania, called BRD Finance Credite de Consum.

It also established 42 new branches in 2004, 39 of which were under its new retail banking brand, BRD Express. It aims to open more than 50 more branches this year. And it set up Romania's first online banking service, BRD-NET.

Bank Austria and HVB have together done the most deals in the syndicated loan market in Romania, where they achieved a 17% market share in the past 12 months. They arranged the year's biggest deal – a $400 million loan for Banca Comerciala Romana.

Ernst & Young wins the award for best M&A house, having done the most deals and advised on the biggest of the year, including OMV's $1.7

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