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|BEST BANK: Standard Bank
BEST DEBT HOUSE: Citigroup
BEST M&A HOUSE: JPMorgan
The South African economy has benefited from the global boom in commodity prices – the country is the world’s largest producer of platinum, gold and chromium – in the past year and grew at a strong 4.9% in 2005. Although annual GDP per capita of $12,000 is not substantially higher than levels in other middle income sub-Saharan African countries, the size of the economy is in a different league to the rest of the continent. Consequently, the banking market in South Africa is vastly more developed in terms of competition, services and the sophistication of banks, corporates and retail clients.
The greatest competition in South African banking is between the top five banks: Absa, FirstRand, Nedbank, Standard Bank and Investec. There is a chasm in terms of assets and services between these players and the next tier of banks, headed by players such as Africa Bank and Mercantile Bank – the fifth-largest bank by assets, Investec, has more than 10 times the assets of sixth-placed bank Africa Bank.