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Best rated banks: Crisis? Bring it on

Some European banks are coming through the credit crisis relatively unscathed, or even with enhanced market positions and reputations. Never has differentiation been more important.

EXPERIENCED BANKING ANALYSTS such as Morgan Stanley’s Huw van Steenis and Bruce Hamilton are not generally given to hyperbole. But when they visited Switzerland earlier this summer they were clearly struck by how profoundly the events of the past year had affected the private banking industry. "We think there is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for [Julius] Baer and a number of the smaller private banks to take share from large global integrated players that have suffered in the market turmoil," van Steenis and Hamilton wrote.

Bert Bruggink, Rabobank

"We’ve had the crisis, and we have certainly benefited from the safe-haven effect that it has caused. At the short end of the curve in particular, we have been swamped with liquidity"
Bert Bruggink, Rabobank

Whether or not equally transformational opportunities have been created in the broader European banking universe remains to be seen. But a crisis that left several industry heavyweights squirming has been survived and even enjoyed by others. "A year or so ago, when people asked me what the best thing that could happen to us would be, my answer was a crisis in the financial markets," says Bert Bruggink, CFO of Rabobank.

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