Features : World’s Best Foreign Exchange Banks 2004

Global Finance selects the leaders in the world’s biggest financial market.

 

 

5EVERY THREE YEARS the Bank for International Settlements takes a “snapshot” of the foreign exchange market, with central banks around the world contributing simultaneous surveys of market activity. When the world’s biggest financial market gets its class picture taken next month, it likely will be considerably larger than it was in 2001.This is because the decline in the US dollar to multi-year lows is spurring hedging activity, while the relentless spread of electronic trading is lowering the cost of access and coaxing more small traders into the currency arena, analysts say.They estimate that turnover figure could reach $1.5 trillion a day when the BIS tallies the data later this year.

Meanwhile, Global Finance has selected the leading foreign exchange banks, globally and in 70 countries and regions, in our biggest annual survey to date. We added 24 new countries this year, as well as honorable- mention awards in the United States and Western Europe and among the online trading systems that are continuing to grow rapidly.

With the input of analysts, corporate executives and technology experts, Global Finance editors chose the best foreign exchange providers. While transaction volume and market share were important criteria for selecting the winners, we also considered customer service, competitive pricing and innovative products and technology.

The big moves seen in the currency markets in recent months have heightened the value of constructive advice on risk management and strategic positioning. The potential for loss and the opportunity for gains are greater than ever for anybody who ventures into global markets or has cross-border exposure.“With the US dollar at an eight-year low on a trade-weighted basis, there has been an increase in hedging,” says David Gilmore, partner and economist at Essex, Connecticut-based Foreign Exchange Analytics. “The derivatives side of the market is already huge and growing enormously,” he adds. “There are an increasing number of hedge funds that are very active in foreign exchange.”

Companies need to take a disciplined approach to currency risk, says Marc Chandler, chief currency strategist at HSBC Bank USA, selected by Global Finance as the best in foreign exchange research.“We are not convinced that the US economic rebound has legs,” Chandler says. As a result, the dollar could continue drifting lower, he says, particularly if the Federal Reserve is patient and waits until 2005 before cranking up rates.“Since the lower dollar boosts the economy with no risk of setting off inflation at this point, it’s almost a free lunch for the US,” Chandler adds.

 

GLOBAL WINNER

CITIGROUP

Citigroup is a market leader in foreign exchange worldwide, with a presence in 100 countries. The bank’s global trading desks are major providers of liquidity to the market. The CitiFX team within the corporate and investment bank offers first-class service and competitive prices in currency spot, forward and options transactions.

Good trading opportunities in the major currencies, as a result of exchange- rate volatility, helped Citigroup maintain its strong foreign exchange trading-related revenue in 2003 at $1.8 billion, the same as in 2002.

Richard Moore, co-head of Citigroup’s global rates and currencies (GRAC) group, has been appointed head of European fixed income, effective March 1, 2004. Geoffrey O. Coley, a managing director and the other co-head of GRAC, will be the sole head of the group, with global responsibility for interest rate, foreign exchange and derivatives trading. Dealing in 150 currencies and offering 24-hour sales and trading service, Citigroup is the pre-eminent foreign exchange bank. Armed with the latest technology, skilled staff and the widest range of products, CitiFX offers innovative hedging strategies and investment opportunities to an impressive roster of clients.

Citigroup delivers its foreign exchange services in the context of long-term relationships that enable it to tailor its offerings to meet the needs of its customers for risk management, yield enhancement and positions based on market views.

With a market share of 25%, Citigroup also is the market leader in the provision of CLS settlement services to third-party clients. The CLS real-time global settlement process, introduced in September 2002, reduces risk caused by foreign exchange transactions occurring across different time zones. The bank’s branches in London, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore and Sydney, which are involved in the CLS settlement process, have handled trillions of dollars worth of such transactions.


BEST ONLINE FOREX TRADING SYSTEMS

 

BEST BANK SYSTEM

STATE STREET’S FX CONNECT

FX Connect, part of Boston, Massachusetts- based State Street’s Global Link trading platform,has continued to experience strong growth in trading volume, with more than $20 billion of currencies changing hands on a good day. State Street is committed to continuing to enhance the platform to meet the needs of sophisticated global investors, according to Simon Wilson-Taylor, head of Global Link.“Since our inception in 1996, we have established our market leadership with the most robust platform, the largest share of the online foreign exchange market and industry- leading security and confidentiality,” he says.

FX Connect is able to transact block trades in currency forwards and swaps across an unlimited number of accounts and through multiple counter-parties. Global Link’s multi-bank foreign exchange tradeconfirmation and settlement product, GTSS II, also has gained market share.Many clients have selected FX Connect for its straight-through processing benefits. State Street’s multiasset- class trade-order management systems are unique among online trading services.

More than 400 asset-management companies in 23 countries are using State Street’s proprietary Global Link network. The service provides fact-based research, decision-support tools and trading technology for six asset classes.

 

BEST INDEPENDENT

FXALL

FXall, which introduced live trading on its system in May 2001, now has more than 600 customers and 46 financial institutions providing liquidity, the most of any multi-bank portal. In November 2003 FXall traded more than $22 billion in a single day and set a monthly record trading volume of $271 billion. The rise in volume was mainly due to increased trading from institutional customers, especially asset managers. FXall’s board has approved $5 million of system enhancements to expand capacity and ensure fast, automated prices regardless of market volatility. “During the last year, the market for online foreign exchange trading has been transformed,” says Phil Weisberg, CEO of FXall.“The initial focus on click-and-deal functionality has matured into a need for solutions that automate the entire FX process,” he says.

The FXall system offers trade execution, access to research and straight-through processing. Key Bank has joined a group of 45 bank branches confirming trades on the system’s Settlement Center, a standalone service that fully automates the post-trade process. About onethird of transactions handled by Settlement Center are executed away from the FXall trading platform. Some major companies are channeling the majority of their foreign exchange trades through FXall. Oracle, for example, trades 97% of its total foreign exchange volume on the system. Meanwhile, 10 leading banks have joined FXall’s prime brokerage service, which is expected to go live soon.

 

BEST INDEPENDENT/ HONORABLE MENTION

CENTRADIA

Centradia is an electronic trading platform set up by four European banks to offer foreign exchange spot, forward and swap transactions, as well as money market products, to their corporate and institutional customers.The system uses a blending process to select the best bid and best offer prices from the four banks.

The system was created by Royal Bank of Scotland, Société Générale, Banco Santander Central Hispano and Sanpaolo IMI. Launched in November 2001,it is being used by 700 of the banks’ customers but does not yet accept clients outside of Europe.

Centradia offers a choice of six languages, recognizing that customers feel more comfortable trading in their native tongue.


BEST INDEPENDENT/ HONORABLE MENTION

CURRENEX

The Currenex trading platform links buyers and sellers of currencies worldwide and is open to all market participants. Currenex bills itself as the leading low-cost technology provider of foreign exchange and money market trading solutions. Currenex operates 24 hours a day, six days a week. In October 2003 Currenex licensed True Credentials from GeoTrust for securing online currency exchange transactions. Currenex says the GeoTrust product will enable it to lower its security cost by 50%.

Founded in 1999, New York-based Currenex has offices in London, Chicago, California and Singapore.

 

REGIONAL WINNERS

 

NORTH AMERICA

CITIGROUP

Citigroup’s foreign exchange franchise, CitiFX, provides fast execution, competitive prices, in-depth analysis and useful advice to companies, investors and financial institutions. The bank draws on its worldwide resources to provide its North American clients with 24-hour coverage of currency markets. Its knowledge of customers’ business needs enables it to construct customized risk-management services, including hedging of exposures and innovative use of currency-related products. Citigroup has the technology and liquidity to service smaller and regional banks as buy-side customers. The bank’s primary processing systems handle a very large volume of transactions. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange selected Citigroup to handle the settlement of its currency-futures transactions through CLS Bank, reducing the time required for delivery.

 

LATIN AMERICA

BANCO SANTANDER CENTRAL HISPANO

Banco Santander Central Hispano, one of Spain’s leading banks, has nearly 4,000 offices in Latin America, where it serves 23 million clients. The bank has made a number of strategic moves in the past two years to strengthen its operations in the region by focusing on the most-profitable markets and scaling back elsewhere. BSCH has learned to live with currency devaluations by sharpening its risk-management skills. Latin American retail banking contributed almost onethird of the group’s profits in 2003, and the economic environment in the region is improving.The bank relies on a common business model and technology platform, with locally focused management. In May 2003 BSCH acquired the Miamibased Latin American private-banking operations of the Coutts Group from the Spanish bank’s long-term ally, Royal Bank of Scotland.


WESTERN EUROPE

DEUTSCHE BANK

Deutsche Bank is a major force in the foreign exchange markets, with dealing rooms in 42 financial centers worldwide. The bank is a volume leader in many currencies, particularly the euro, and is one of the top three foreign exchange revenue earners globally. Its 330 foreign exchange specialists deal in 1,000 different currency pairs.The bank handles corporate t rade-related currency flows, as well as investor flows, due to its leading position in the global fixed-income and equity markets.This gives it a good feel for cross-border flow of funds, which can influence currency values. Deutsche Bank is an active corporate advisory firm and works closely with clients on strategic hedging strategies. Its structured note products offer asset managers an opportunity to benefit from the appreciation of the euro in exchange for lower coupon income. The bank’s proprietary currency-trading tools and research round out a versatile organization.


WESTERN EUROPE/ HONORABLE MENTION

BNP PARIBAS

BNP Paribas’ foreign exchange group operates on a global scale, providing coverage in all major financial centers.The bank’s FX Dealer Web product offers research, analytics, trading and order management. Its FX Clearer service gives clients information on consolidated positions for all foreign exchange, money market and CLS deals for continuous-linked settlement. BNP Paribas is active in 85 countries, and its marketing teams provide local access to its global network and personalized service to meet customer needs. In early 2003 the bank opened a foreign exchange sales desk in Zurich, in addition to its existing desk in Geneva.

 

WESTERN EUROPE/ HONORABLE MENTION

UBS

UBS Investment Bank is a leading global provider of foreign exchange services to corporate, institutional and private clients.The bank is a primary liquidity provider in the wholesale interbank market, offering superior pricing and execution. UBS offers a comprehensive range of currency-related products, including derivatives and investments.The bank’s clients transact 70% of their spot, forward and currency-swap trades over the Internet using UBS’s highly rated platform. UBS places its foreign exchange teams on the trading floors of the investment bank for quick access to market information and customized products.

 

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

BANK AUSTRIA CREDITANSTALT

Bank Austria Creditanstalt is the leading network bank in Central and Eastern Europe, with 18,000 employees in 12 countries. Part of Germany’s HVB Group, it has concentrated recent expansion efforts on Southeast Europe. In October 2003 it became majority owner of Central Profit Banka in Bosnia-Herzegovina and plans to merge the bank with its existing operation in the country. In 2002 Bank Austria Creditanstalt acquired Splitska Banka in Croatia and Biochim in Bulgaria. In March 2003 it opened a representative office in Macedonia. Each subsidiary of Bank Austria Creditanstalt in the CEE region has its own treasury unit, of which the largest are in Poland,Hungary and the Czech Republic.There also are local operations in Slovakia, Slovenia,Serbia and Montenegro,Romania, and Ukraine.


SCANDINAVIA

DEN NORSKE BANK

Oslo-based Den norske Bank is Norway’s leading foreign exchange bank and the country’s largest financial- services group.The bank, which offers 24-hour dealing services, has branches in Stockholm, Copenhagen, Helsinki, London, Hamburg, New York and Singapore, as well as a global network of representative offices and correspondent banks. DnB Markets offers customized risk-management services in interest-rate and currency products. It also provides currency-market analysis and highquality service.

 

MIDDLE EAST

NATIONAL BANK OF KUWAIT

National Bank of Kuwait is the leading Arab bank and the largest bank in Kuwait, where it has a top market share across all lines of business. NBK also has the largest international network of banks in the region. During 2003 it opened an onshore branch in Bahrain, where it was previously limited to offshore operations. The bank plans to open branches in Jordan and Saudi Arabia and is pursuing acquisitions in other markets in the region.

Regional banks turn to NBK as a source of pricing for many exotic currencies, as well as the major currencies. Its pricing power and leading market share in the Kuwaiti dinar attract many big-ticket deals.

 

AFRICA

STANDARD CHARTERED BANK

London-based Standard Chartered has an African network of 160 offices in 13 countries.The bank is expanding its operations in South Africa, where it recently received approval to open a branch. In 2002 it began operating in Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire.

Standard Chartered relies on welltrained relationship managers and modern systems to serve its African clients. Its global markets services are delivered through a network of dealing rooms in 12 African nations, which are linked to the group’s international network to provide 24- hour service in spot and forward foreign exchange and interest-rate products.

 

ASIA-PACIFIC

HSBC

HSBC has one of the most extensive branch networks in Asia, with 700 offices in 22 countries. The bank’s 19 dealing rooms in the region offer highly competitive foreign exchange rates and quick execution in a wide range of currencies. The HSBCnet platform offers a new flow-analysis tool for improved currency forecasts based on spot and forward transaction data aggregated in Hong Kong. HSBC provides flexible hedging services through a broad range of currency- option products.With a longterm presence in Asia, HSBC has an unsurpassed knowledge of local markets and practices. It is expanding in the fast-growing markets of India and China.


SOUTHEAST ASIA

DBS GROUP

Singapore-based DBS is the largest banking group in Southeast Asia. It is a major provider of Asian currency products and has been actively building up its treasury and markets businesses. The bank is a leader in Singapore-dollar interest rate swaps and Thai baht currency swaps. Customers praise its risk management and advanced technology. In January 2004 DBS Thai Danu Bank agreed to merge with Thai Military Bank to create the sixth-largest bank in Thailand. DBS also has operations in the Philippines and Indonesia.


BEST FOREIGN EXCHANGE RESEARCH

HSBC BANK USA

HSBC Bank USA’s hands-on approach to foreign exchange research is beginning to be adopted by other banks.The New York-based client advisory and strategy team, headed by Marc Chandler, chief currency strategist and senior vice president, calls at least 150 clients a month to update them directly on developments important to their business and to propose strategies for smart risk-taking. Chandler also writes a daily FX Edge commentary on market and macro-economic developments in the major currencies, while Clyde Wardle covers the emerging markets with his insightful EM Edge, also a daily publication. Meg Browne, currency strategist, backs up Chandler and Wardle, while Toronto-based Stewart Hall writes The Canadian Edge to add another perspective on the day’s events. Chandler and his team sit on the desk with HSBC’s salespeople and traders.They also meet regularly with senior policymakers from a vavariety of countries and pass along behind- the-scenes insights to customers on what is really happening at Group of 7 meetings.


COUNTRY WINNERS

 

ARGENTINA

CITIGROUP

Citigroup pumped an additional $150 million of capital into its branch in Argentina in December 2003, two years after a financial crisis forced some foreign banks to pull out of the country. Citigroup has been in Argentina for 90 years and is not about to leave.

 

ARMENIA

HSBC BANK-ARMENIA

HSBC has been operating in Armenia since 1996 and now controls nearly one-third of the banking market. The bank’s foreign exchange trading volume also has grown rapidly, and HSBC is making money in a tough market by offering worldclass products.


AUSTRALIA

ANZ

ANZ,one of Australia’s largest banks, makes competitive markets in the Australian dollar and New Zealand kiwi, as well as the Japanese yen. Not only does the bank have 1,000 branches in Australia, but it also purchased National Bank of New Zealand last year and operates in 25 countries.


AUSTRIA

BANK AUSTRIA CREDITANSTALT

Part of Germany’s HVB Group, Bank Austria Creditanstalt trades all the major currencies and has particular expertise in the Polish zloty, the Hungarian forint and other currencies of Central and Eastern Europe. The bank is the biggest by far in AusAustria, where it serves 80% of the country’s large companies.

 

BAHRAIN

NATIONAL BANK OF BAHRAIN

National Bank of Bahrain is a major participant in foreign exchange and precious metals markets, serving corporations as well as local and neighboring banks in the Gulf Cooperation Council. NBB also offers margin-trading contracts to high-net-worth individuals.


BELARUS

PRIORBANK

Priorbank, which is majority-owned by RZB of Austria,has 71 branches in Belarus and is the country’s largest privately owned bank. The bank, which was established in 1989, has been profitable in recent years and assists local companies with their foreign trade operations.


BELGIUM

FORTIS BANK

Fortis Bank is one of the largest financial service providers in the Benelux mark e t , with 3,000 branches. Fortis joined the FXall electronic trading platform in December 2002. The group has 100 companies operating internationally in insurance, banking and investments.

 

BRAZIL

BANCO BRADESCO

Banco Bradesco, the largest privatesector bank in Brazil, has a global network of 3,000 correspondents. It handles a large share of the country’s US-dollar-denominated payment inflows and about 20% of its foreign exchange export trade contracts.

 

CANADA

ROYAL BANK OF CANADA

Royal Bank of Canada, one of the top 15 banks globally in foreign exchange revenues, is the leading trader of the Canadian dollar.The bank’s FXDirect online trading system offers real-time rates in more than 30 currencies. RBC also has strategic alliances with multi-bank foreign exchange portals.

 

CHILE

BANCO SANTANDER-CHILE

Banco Santander-Chile, 84% owned by Spain’s Grupo Santander, is Chile’s largest bank. It has 346 branches in the country and enjoys the highest credit ratings of any Latin American company. Profits have risen sharply following the 2002 merger with Banco Santiago.

 

CHINA

BANK OF CHINA

Bank of China, one of the country’s Big Four state-owned commercial banks, received a capital injection of $22.5 billion from the government at the end of 2003 to help clean up its portfolio of bad loans ahead of a stock exchange listing next year.The bank, which has 28 overseas offices, is trying to evolve into a true commercial bank.

 

COLOMBIA

BANCOLOMBIA

Bancolombia, Colombia’s largest bank, maintains a network of 341 branches and ATMs. It was the first to introduce online banking in Colombia and offers a wide range of foreign exchange and trade-finance services.


COSTA RICA

BANCO BANEX

Banco Banex, owned by Panama’s Primer Banco del Istmo, is a fastgrowing private bank with modern services and international connections. It has remained profitable in a difficult economic environment.


CZECH REPUBLIC

CESKOSLOVENSKA OBCHODNI BANKI (CSOB)

Ceskoslovenska Obchodni Banki, which is owned by Belgium’s KBC, takes advantage of the KBC international network, including cross-currency pools and innovative cash management. CSOB also offers an extensive domestic branch network.

 

DENMARK

DANSKE BANK

The largest bank in Denmark, Danske Bank offers corporate banking branches elsewhere in Europe and in the US. It blankets the domestic market with more than 400 outlets and offers a wide range of financial services.

 

EGYPT

COMMERCIAL INTERNATIONAL BANK

Commercial International Bank, Egypt’s largest private bank, doubled its paid-in capital at the end of 2003. The bank has demonstrated an ability to operate effectively in the country’s newly liberalized foreign exchange market.

 

ESTONIA

HANSABANK

Hansabank handles 70% of Estonia’s international payments.The group’s universal banks in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania control one-third of the Baltic market. Hansabank has a cooperation agreement with Finland’s OKO Bank.

 

FRANCE

BNP PARIBAS

BNP Paribas is active in 85 countries and provides foreign exchange coverage in all major financial centers. The bank’s FX Dealer and FX Clearer online systems offer live prices, news, strategy, research and access to consolidated positions and CLS (continuous-linked settlement) deals.

 

GEORGIA

TBC BANK

Founded in 1992 after the collapse of the Soviet Union,TBC Bank is the largest bank in Georgia. Soros Investment Capital holds a 25% stake in this fast-growing bank known for its technology and innovation.

 

GERMANY

DEUTSCHE BANK

Deutsche Bank is one of the world’s leading banks in terms of foreign exchange revenue, with 42 dealing rooms around the globe. The bank offers “autobahn FX” trading systems designed for clients’ individual needs. It handles a large share of the world’s capital flows, giving it special insight on currency movements.

 

GREECE

NATIONAL BANK OF GREECE

National Bank of Greece, the country’s largest commercial bank, is steadily increasing its presence outside of Greece. It is already active in 18 countries, including the US.The bank offers online banking and loans in foreign currencies.

 

HONG KONG

HSBC

HSBC’s Hong Kong dealing room is the largest in Asia. The UK-based bank was established in Hong Kong and Shanghai in 1865. HSBC quotes competitive prices in all major currencies and is highly recommended by its corporate customers.

 

HUNGARY

OTP BANK

Hungary’s OTP Bank is creating a banking network in Central and Eastern Europe. It already has turned around one of Slovakia’s most troubled banks and has purchased DSK Bank, the second-largest bank in Bulgaria.

 

INDIA

ICICI BANK

ICICI Bank, the first Indian bank to list on the New York Stock Exchange, has set up a UK subsidiary in an alliance with Lloyds TSB. It is offering competitive foreign exchange rates to win a share of the huge remittance market to India.

 

ISRAEL

BANK HAPOALIM

Tel Aviv-based Bank Hapoalim is Israel’s largest bank, with 329 domestic branches. It is upgrading the technology at its 24 foreign offices to serve a growing list of customers.

 

ITALY

INTESABCI

IntesaBCI, Italy’s largest bank holding company, operates in 40 countries and is the leading Italian bank in international activities. It has about 3,700 branches in Italy and another 700 offices around the world.

 

JAPAN

MITSUBISHI TOKYO FINANCIAL GROUP

Mitsubishi Tokyo Financial Group, one of the world’s largest banks, is a major player in the foreign-exchange markets. The bank plans to develop an advanced yen-settlement system with JPMorgan Chase.

 

KAZAKHSTAN

KAZKOMMERTSBANK

Kazkommertsbank, the largest bank in the republic, with a 27% market share, is expanding abroad. It recently purchased a bank in neighboring Kyrgyzstan and acquired Moskommertsbank in Moscow. In December 2003 it set up an international banking unit in Cyprus.


KUWAIT

NATIONAL BANK OF KUWAIT

National Bank of Kuwait is a respected participant in the wholesale foreign exchange market. NBK’s Singapore branch operates 24 hours a day and watches orders from banks and customers from around the world. The bank is the undisputed leader in the Kuwaiti dinar market and stands out among Arab banks in terms of its international network.


LATVIA

RIETUMU BANKA

Rietumu Banka is the leading Latvian bank in the foreign exchange market, where it offers flexible conditions and speedy execution of trades. Known for its innovation and technology, the bank offers highly competitive pricing in a wide range of currencies.

 

LITHUANIA

VILNIAUS BANKAS

Established in 1990,Vilniaus Bankas was one of the first commercial banks in Lithuania. Owned by SEB of Sweden, Vilniaus offers efficient management of foreign exchange risks and cash flows.


MALAYSIA

MAYBANK

Maybank accounts for 25% of the assets of Malaysia’s banking system. It has 420 branches in Malaysia and an extensive international network. In December 2003 the bank launched the Maybank American Express Credit Card.


MEXICO

BANAMEX

Banamex is one of the largest banks in Mexico and boasts a 65% market share in foreign exchange. Owned by Citigroup, it is the leading pesoclearing agent for foreign exchange transactions and deals in a wide range of currencies.


MOLDOVA

MOLDOVA AGROINDBANK

Moldova Agroindbank is the largest commercial bank in Moldova, with about 25% of the country’s loan portfolio. It has more than 70 foreign exchange offices throughout Moldova.


NETHERLANDS

ABN AMRO BANK

ABN AMRO Bank has expanded its foreign exchange research coverage with a string of hires in London, Chicago and Singapore.The bank is sharpening its focus on serving the individual needs of its corporate and financial-institution clients with tailored strategy products. It has 3,000 branches in 66 countries.


NEW ZEALAND

ANZ

ANZ’s purchase of National Bank of New Zealand in October 2003 has gone smoothly, boosting the bank’s asset base and its ability to serve the corporate market. Besides Australia and New Zealand, the bank has 50 overseas branches in 25 nations.


NIGERIA

FIRST BANK OF NIGERIA

First Bank of Nigeria has the largest banking network in the country, with 340 branches. The steadily growing bank offers international money transfer, foreign exchange and trade-finance services.

 

NORWAY

DEN NORSKE BANK

Den norske Bank, Norway’s largest bank, is the principal banker for 25% of the country’s corporate market and more than half of its 300 largest companies. It also handles more than half of the payment flows related to international trade and is the leading foreign exchange bank.

 

OMAN

BANKMUSCAT

BankMuscat offers a full range of foreign exchange products and deals in major and regional currencies. The bank’s Bahrain branch provides margin accounts to local clients. BankMuscat is the leading market maker in the Omani rial and uses derivatives and structured products in exotic options to meet the needs of corporations.

 

PAKISTAN

NATIONAL BANK OF PAKISTAN

National Bank of Pakistan was the first to establish a foreign exchange company after the State Bank of Pakistan liberalized the foreign currency business. Foreign exchange companies are allowed to export non-dollar currencies to obtain US dollars abroad.

 

POLAND

BANK HANDLOWY

Bank Handlowy, part of Citigroup, is highly automated and takes advantage of the know-how and international network of its US parent to provide excellent foreign exchange services. The bank has a local network of 175 branches.

 

PORTUGAL

MILLENNIUM BCP

Millennium bcp is Portugal’s biggest private bank and the largest company listed on the Lisbon Stock Exchange. In addition to 900 domestic branches, it has operations scattered across Europe,Asia,Africa and the Americas.


QATAR

QATAR NATIONAL BANK

Qatar National Bank is active in the foreign exchange market, where it deals in major, regional, Arab and Asian currencies. Its clients include regional financial institutions, local banks and major corporations. QNB offers efficient wire transfers through a wide network of correspondents.

 

RUSSIA

ALFA BANK

Alfa Bank, Russia’s largest private bank, has a large domestic network and subsidiaries in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, London, Amsterdam and New York. It is part of an industrial conglomerate with interests in oil and gas, commodities trading and telecommunications. The bank has shifted its strategic priorities toward commercial banking and away from in-house banking for the Alfa Group.

 

SAUDI ARABIA

ARAB NATIONAL BANK

Arab National Bank provides a full range of spot, forward and option products in foreign exchange. The bank has a broad base of margintrading clients in foreign exchange and precious metals, as well as corporate clients. Its growing foreign exchange trading volume averages $300 million a day.

 

SINGAPORE

DBS GROUP

Active in major and regional currencies, DBS is a member of the CLS Group, a global initiative to help reduce settlement risk in the currency markets. The bank has subsidiaries in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand.


SLOVAK REPUBLIC

HVB BANK SLOVAKIA

HVB Bank Slovakia serves 22,000 clients through a network of 23 branches. A part of Germany’s HVB Group, the universal bank offers high-quality services.

 

SLOVENIA

NOVA LJUBLJANSKA BANKA

NLB is the largest banking group in Slovenia, with a 45% market share. KBC Bank of Belgium holds a 34% stake in NLB, which has 108 domestic branches and a branch in Trieste, Italy.


SOUTH AFRICA

STANDARD BANK

South Africa’s largest bank has offices in 16 African nations, as well as in Hong Kong, Russia, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates,the UK and the US.The bank has an efficient online foreign exchange dealing service.

 

SOUTH KOREA

KOREA EXCHANGE BANK

Korea Exchange Bank is the leading foreign exchange bank in South Korea, with a 14% market share. KEB has correspondent relationships with 3,100 banks worldwide and plans to expand into currency derivatives.


SPAIN

BANCO BILBAO VIZCAYA ARGENTARIA

BBVA, one of Spain’s top banks alongside Banco Santander Central Hispano, controls banks in a dozen Latin American countries. It is also active in Greece, Italy and Portugal. BBVA offers currency derivatives, Internet trading and CLS services.


SWEDEN

SVENSKA HANDELSBANKEN

Handelsbanken has managed to keep costs down and its customers satisfied by relying heavily on Internet banking. It boasts the largest banking operation in Sweden, as well as smaller operations in China, Hong Kong, the US and parts of Europe.

 

SWITZERLAND

UBS

UBS is the leading foreign exchange bank in Switzerland, as well as a top-tier foreign exchange service provider worldwide.The bank’s foreign exchange team works closely with its investment bankers, giving it access to the latest market information and customized products.

 

TAIWAN

CHINATRUST COMMERCIAL BANK

Chinatrust’s rapidly expanding international presence and its connections to the Swift network enable it to handle transactions quickly and efficiently. It offers foreign exchange forward contracts and advisory services.

 

THAILAND

BANGKOK BANK

Bangkok Bank, Thailand’s largest commercial bank, has 20 overseas branches and connections with 1,500 correspondent banks. It has a long record of service to Thailand’s top companies and offers competitive foreign exchange rates and hedging instruments.


TURKEY

AKBANK

Akbank has one of the largest banking networks in Turkey, with 618 branches. It has benefited from its customers’ preference to deal with a strong bank during the country’s recent economic problems.

 

UAE

NATIONAL BANK OF DUBAI

National Bank of Dubai offers a wide range of foreign exchange services, including spot and forward contracts, swaps and structured options. It also provides currency forecasts and hedging strategies.


UKRAINE

PRIVATBANK

Privatbank, the leading bank in Ukraine, has correspondent relationships with 317 banks in 23 countries.The bank also has a large domestic branch network and is technologically advanced.


UNITED KINGDOM

BARCLAYS

Barclays, with a presence in 60 countries, is strengthening its foreign exchange sales team. Barclays Capital, the investment banking division, recently added two directors in New York to expand institutional client coverage. It also hired three people in its foreign exchange division in London to cover Spain and Italy. The bank is also increasing its options coverage.


UNITED STATES

CITIGROUP

Citigroup is a market leader in foreign exchange, dealing in 150 currencies. Its CitiFX team within the corporate and investment bank provides clients with innovative advice, competitive pricing and fast execution. The bank’s CitiFX White Label platform serves mid-size and regional banks seeking to reduce the costs associated with providing worldclass foreign exchange products. Citigroup’s financial-institution clients are able to use its settlement services to gain access to the CLS Bank’s infrastructure to reduce the cost of settlement and exception processing.

 

UNITED STATES/ HONORABLE MENTION

JPMORGAN CHASE

JPMorgan Chase offers world-class service in major and exotic currencies around the clock. The bank’s main trading centers in New York, London, Frankfurt,Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong and Sydney are supplemented by trading rooms in 25 other countries. JPMorgan Chase has made a significant commitment to the foreign exchange prime-brokerage business. It is also among the leading banks in both value and volume of trades settled via CLS and continues to expand its base of third-party clients.

 

UNITED STATES/ HONORABLE MENTION

BANK OF NEW YORK

Bank of New York makes markets in more than 100 currencies.The bank specializes in value-added currency risk management services. It strives to understand its customers’ businesses in order to develop comprehensive foreign exchange strategies. The bank structures products to meet a client’s specific exposures, market views and tolerance for risk. Bank of New York’s iFX Manager enables clients to trade manually and electronically using one system and to automate the workflow process.

 

VENEZUELA

BANCO MERCANTIL

Banco Mercantil, the largest private financial institution in Venezuela, is operating in a difficult environment. Faced with currency controls and a fixed exchange rate of 1,598 bolivars to the dollar, it is unable to realize gains from currency trading. Still, it is able to intermediate dollar requests from individuals and companies with the government’s foreign exchange control office.

 

Related Articles