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The ups and downs of CEE banking

In the spirit of summer supplements, here is Euromoney’s must-have guide to some of the main winners and losers of the past year in central and eastern Europe.


Long after their arrival was first rumoured, China’s banks are finally extending their reach into emerging Europe. In January, Bank of China became the first Chinese lender to set up shop in central and southeastern Europe when it opened a branch in Serbia, from which it is reportedly looking to cover the whole of the Balkans and neighbouring countries.

The lender is also planning to open a deposit bank in Turkey this year, following in the footsteps of fellow state-controlled bank ICBC, which bought Tekstilbank in 2015. Both banks have also turned up with increasing frequency over the last two years on loan syndications in the region, mainly in Turkey and Russia, but also in Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic. 

Traditionally China’s banks and big firms move in lockstep, and that looks to be the case here. Acquisitions by Chinese firms in CEE doubled last year in volume terms, boosting China to number three in the rankings of inbound M&A for the region, according to lawyers CMS. 

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