Best Bank: Alfa Bank
Sberbank and VTB have captured most of the headlines in recent months with their $8 billion-plus stock offerings, but it is Alfa Bank that is the real deal in the fast-growing Russian banking market. Alfa has a true universal banking franchise, with well-established retail, corporate and investment banking arms, and although its branch network is much smaller that those of either Sberbank or VTB it nevertheless boasts a true nationwide reach that enables it to take full advantage of the strong economic growth in Russia’s far-flung regions. The bank can also lay claim to a number of impressive capital market transactions, with a series of well-received debt issues at home and abroad in both plain vanilla and structured credit formats. In particular, the bank’s $400 million Eurobond in September 2006 was its largest ever and provided confirmation that the bank is well regarded by international bond investors.