Best Bank: Raiffeisen Bank
One-time banking desert Albania is fast becoming an oasis for the financial services industry, with a host of international banks setting up shop in the Balkan state. The country’s number two and number three players – American Bank of Albania and Banka Kombetare Tregetare – have been snapped up in the past 12 months by Italy’s Sanpaolo IMI and Turkey’s Calik Holding, respectively, and both will undoubtedly pose a serious challenge to current market leader Raiffeisen Bank in the coming year. For the moment, though, Raiffeisen Bank is still cock of the walk and has enjoyed a strong past 12 months. The Austrian-owned bank’s loan portfolio, for example, grew by a highly impressive 103% in 2006, while, thanks to an expanded branch network totalling almost 100 outlets, the number of customers served by the bank has almost reached the 500,000 mark. In a country where basic banking services are still at a premium the bank’s 122-strong ATM network is another key competitive advantage.