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BEST BANK: Raiffeisenbank
The old eastern European adage still holds true – Raiffeisen International rushes in where angels fear to tread. But it is equally true that Raiffeisen’s gutsy first-mover strategy pays dividends and often leaves the competition looking foolish.

Nowhere is that clearer than in Serbia and Montenegro. Raiffeisen was the first foreign bank into the market in 2001, setting up a greenfield subsidiary, called Raiffeisenbank. Following the Serbian banking crisis in the same year, it rapidly became the leading bank in the country. It proved the case for foreign banks being active in Serbia; in the past two years other banks have scrambled to follow its lead, leading to a bidding war for privatized banking assets. BNP Paribas has done very well advising banks such as Erste Bank and Nova Ljubljanska banka in their acquisitions of Serbian banks, for which we give it the best investment bank award.

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