Awards for Excellence 2008: Belgium
Best bank: KBC
Best investment bank: Merrill Lynch
While Fortis has been bulking up across the border and in private banking and asset management thanks to some hearty chunks of ABN Amro, KBC has managed reasonable organic growth at home. The bank’s domestic mortgage book grew 10% and it also succeeded in increasing the net interest income of its Belgian retail business by 10% despite a significant shift out of investment funds into deposits.
KBC, which also has an east European business that’s growing healthily, also managed to dodge more structured credit bullets than its mighty neighbour, which has been busy hunting and digesting its prey.
Fortis’s wheeling and dealing, however, dominated Belgian investment activity over the past year, propelling Merrill Lynch up the M&A and ECM league tables thanks to such jumbo deals as Fortis’s €13 billion rights issue, the largest sole-underwritten equity deal of all time, and a €3 billion convertible.