Serbia & Montenegro
BEST DEBT HOUSE
Serbia is a good example of the success that can spring from Raiffeisen International's adventurous expansion strategy. Raiffeisen set up operations in Serbia in 2000, just a few months after the fall of Slobodan Milosevic. Because banks had been hit by large bankruptcies, Serbians were suspicious of local banks, but ready to trust a well-known foreign bank.
As a result, Raiffeisenbank, as the subsidiary is known, rapidly became a leader in retail deposits. It is now the largest bank in the country, and it is still growing at an impressive rate – last year, its loan volume was up 90%, deposits were up 70% and net profit was up 198%.
Its success has caught the eye of other regional banks, which are now jockeying to enter the market. Both Intesa, Greece's Alpha Bank and Bank Austria recently made acquisitions in the sector.
UBS wins the best debt house award for its work in advising Serbia on its debt restructuring. The sovereign negotiated a London Club deal last summer, and restructured Club debt into a $1.02 billion Eurobond in April 2005. It may raise new financing later in the year.