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Emerging Markets 200 2005: Asia leads the field as Latin banks fight back

Asia's banks have reinforced their position as the largest emerging-market financial institutions thanks to the region's economic growth. Meanwhile Brazilian banks are at a head of a dynamic period in Latin America. Analysts at Moody's Investors Service discuss the trends.


THE PERFORMANCE OF banks in emerging markets remains mixed, ranging from growing strength in segments of central and eastern Europe and Latin America and commodity price-driven growth in the Middle East and western Asia to promising trends in east Asia. Moody's Investors Service believes that continued consolidation, acquisitions by western institutions, stronger regulation/ supervision and growing pressure for market discipline should in time steer many layers of emerging-market banks towards the safer shores of low risk, sustainable profits and virtuous management. However, the path there remains decidedly challenging and uncertain.

Central & Eastern Europe

Despite notable discrepancies, all markets in central and eastern Europe have recorded improvements over recent years, prompting credit rating agencies to upgrade many banks' standalone ratings. Thanks mainly to foreign ownership – which has peaked at more than 75% of total assets across the region, with limited scope for further initiatives – privatized banks have refocused strategies, improved their image, carried out segmentation, revamped product offerings and, most crucially, implemented risk management. The most advanced banking systems – such as in the Czech Republic – are beginning a second phase of development and reorganization, focusing on cost and operating efficiency, and improving risk management practices.

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