This year, the Country Winners of the Global Finance World’s Safest Banks rankings include five new countries and 24 new winners. And three countries had two banks in a near-tie for the No. 1 spot.

Author: David Sanders

Each year involves many changes to our Safest Banks by Country rankings due to macroeconomic forces, geopolitical events and country-specific factors.  New country winners emerge, and also new countries are represented. 

Overall, this year’s rankings include 111 countries, up from 106 last year.  The five new countries are: Estonia, Iraq, Macau, Namibia and Senegal. Estonia and Iraq are included this year because ratings agencies initiated coverage. In Namibia and Senegal, new banks reached critical mass, becoming large enough to make the list. 

New country winners emerged in 24 countries, as compared to 25 new winners last year.  Countries within the Central and Eastern Europe region recorded eight new winners.  In most cases, rating agency action provided the catalyst for new winners.  In the Czech Republic, new winner Komercni banka benefitted from a Fitch upgrade, while last year’s winner, Ceska sporitelna became wholly owned by parent Erste Bank, rendering it ineligible.  Sberbank in Russia replaced Vnesheconombank following upgrades from Moody’s and Fitch.  Each of the three agencies upgraded Slovenia-based Nova Ljubljanska banka boosting its score ahead of Banka Intesa Sanpaolo, the 2018 and 2017 winner.  Savings Bank of Ukraine replaced CB Privatbank due to the improved score following a Moody’s upgrade.

In Australia, Canada and Israel, for the first time our methodology found banks with identical scores that were also very close in asset size—less than 2% difference, making them very nearly ties. The difference in assets between Israel’s Bank Hapoalim and runner-up Bank Leumi, both with scores of 15, is a mere 0.0006%. 

In the Western Europe region, Fitch withdrew the rating of 2018 winner Islandsbanki allowing Landsbankinn to move ahead.  UniCredit emerged as Italy’s winner after incumbent Credit Agricole Cariparma (now named Credit Agricole Italia) was downgraded by Moody’s.  In Greece, S&P initiated coverage of Aegean Baltic Bank, which edged Piraeus Bank for the top ranking.  Nordea Bank changed its domicile to Finland from Sweden and replaced OP Corporate Bank. 

Consistent with last year, banks in countries with emerging-market or developing-market classifications experienced higher turnover than banks in developed economies, as such developing systems show comparatively less resilience in times of geopolitical volatility or domestic and regional economic stress.  For example, the ongoing economic crisis in Venezuela has been very damaging domestically and throughout Latin America.  Mercantil Banco Universal is a new winner; the incumbent, Banesco Banco lost its Fitch rating and now has no rating agency coverage.


WORLD'S SAFEST BANKS 2019 — North America

Country

Company Name

Fitch

Moody’s

S&P

Total Score

Assets ($ Mil.)

Statement Date

Canada

Royal Bank of Canada

AA

Aa2

AA—

23

1,021,770

30-Apr-2019

United States

AgriBank

AA—

Aa3

AA—

21

109,772

31-Dec-2018


Latin America & The Caribbean

Argentina

Banco Santander Rio

B—

Ba3

NR

—14.5

13,494

31-Dec-2018

Bermuda

Butterfield Bank

NR

A3

BBB+

9.5

 10,773

31-Dec-2018

Bolivia

Banco Mercantil Santa Cruz

NR

NR

BB—

—12

 5,174

31-Dec-2018

Brazil

Itau Unibanco Holding

BB

Ba2

BB—

—7

425,795

31-Dec-2018

Chile

Banco del Estado de Chile

A

A1

A+

17

61,588

31-Dec-2018

Colombia

BBVA Colombia

BBB+

Baa2

NR

6.5

19,196

31-Dec-2018

Costa Rica

Banco BAC San Jose

BB—

NR

NR

—12

6,119

31-Dec-2018

Dominican Republic

Banco de Reserbas de la Republica Dominicana

BB—

B1

NR

—11.5

10,052

31-Dec-2018

Ecuador

Banco Pichincha

B—

NR

NR

—21

12,685

31-Dec-2018

El Salvador

Banco Agricola

B

B1

B—

—15

4,520

31-Dec-2018

Guatemala

Banco Agromercantil de Guatemala

BB+

NR

NR

—6

3,480

31-Dec-2018

Honduras

Inversiones Atlantida

B+

NR

B+

—13

3,094

31-Dec-2017

Jamaica

National Commercial Bank Jamaca

B+

NR

B

—14.5

5,926

30-Sept-2018

Mexico

HSBC Mexico

A—

A3

BBB+

11

 39,711

31-Dec-2018

Panama

Banco General

BBB+

Baa2

BBB+

8

18,704

31-Dec-2018

Paraguay

Banco Regional

NR

Ba1

BB

—5.5

2,929

31-Dec-2018

Peru

Scotiabank Peru

A—

A3

BBB+

11

19,826

31-Dec-2018

Trinidad and Tobago

Republic Bank

NR

NR

BBB

3

10,288

31-Dec-2018

Uruguay

Banco de la Republica Oriental del Uruguay

NR

Baa2

NR

3

 17,126

31-Dec-2018

Venezuela

Mercantil Banco

CC

NR

NR

—36

257

31-Dec-2018


Western Europe

Andorra

Crèdit Andorrà

BBB

NR

NR

3

5,936

31-Dec-2018

Austria

Erste Group Bank

A

A2

A

14

271,221

31-Dec-2018

Belgium

BNP Paribas Fortis

A+

A1

A

14

331,311

31-Dec-2017

Cyprus

RCB Bank

NR

B1

BB—

—11.5

9,16

31-Dec-2016

Denmark

Danske Bank

A

A1

A

16

570,183

31-Dec-2017

Finland

OP Corporate Bank

NR

Aa3

AA—

20

73,635

31-Dec-2017

France

Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations

AA

Aa2

AA

24

207,623

31-Dec-2017

Germany

KfW

AAA

Aaa

AAA

30

556,424

31-Dec-2018

Greece

Aegean Baltic Bank

NR

NR

B

—18

309

31-Dec-2018

Iceland

Landsbankinn

NR

NR

BBB+

6

10,660

31-Dec-2018

Ireland

Bank of Ireland Group

BBB

Baa3

BBB—

4

141,681

31-Dec-2018

Italy

UniCredit

BBB

Baa1

BBB

7

952,365

31-Dec-2018

Liechtenstein

Liechtensteinische Landesbank

NR

Aa2

NR

21

 23,199

31-Dec-2018

Luxembourg

Banque et Caisse d’Epargne de l’Etat

NR

Aa2

AA+

24.5

 52,566

31-Dec-2018

Malta

Bank of Valletta

BBB

NR

BBB—

3.5

13,913

31-Dec-2018

Netherlands

BNG Bank

AAA

Aaa

AAA

30

157,503

31-Dec-2018

Norway

Kommunalbanken

NR

Aaa

AAA

29

48,583

31-Dec-2018

Portugal

Banco Santander Totta

BBB+

Baa3

BBB

6

58,746

31-Dec-2018

Spain

Banco Santander

A—

A2

A

14

1,671,450

31-Dec-2018

Sweden

Svenska Handelsbanken

NR

Aa1

AA+

26

31,623

31-Dec-2018

Switzerland

Zürcher Kantonalbank

AAA

Aaa

AAA

30

172,671

31-Dec-2018

United Kingdom

HSBC Holdings

AA—

A2

A

17

2,558,124

31-Dec-2018


Central, Eastern Europe and Former Soviet Union

Armenia

Ardshinbank

B+

Ba3

NR

—11.5

1,391

31-Dec-2017

Azerbaijan

Kapital Bank

NR

Ba3

BB—

—10

 2,241

31-Dec-2016

Balarus

Development Bank of the Republic of Belarus

B

NR

B

—16

3,647

31-Dec-2018

Bulgaria

United Bulgarian Bank

A—

NR

NR

9

6,594

31-Dec-2018

Croatia

Zagrebacka Banka

BBB—

NR

BBB—

2

21,414

31-Dec-2018

Czech Republic

Komercni banka

A

A1

A

16

47,096

31-Dec-2018

Estonia

AS LHV Pank

NR

Ba1

NR

6

 1,885

31-Dec-2018

Georgia

TBC Bank

BB—

Ba3

NR

—8.5

5,773

31-Dec-2018

Hungary

MFB Hungarian Development Bank

BBB

Baa3

BB+

3.5

4,799

31-Dec-2018

Kazakhstan

Development Bank of Kazakhstan

BBB—

Baa3

BB+

1

7,714

31-Dec-2018

Latvia

SC Citadele Banka

NR

Ba2

NR

—6

3,489

31-Dec-2018

Lithuania

Siauliu Bankas

NR

Baa2

NR

3

2,578

31-Dec-2018

Poland

ING Bank Salski

A

A2

NR

14

37,707

31-Dec-2018

Romania

Banca Comerciala Romana

BBB+

Baa3

NR

5

17,559

31-Dec-2018

Russia

Sberbank

BBB

Baa3

NR

3.5

448,744

31-Dec-2018

Slovak Republic

Vseobecna uverova banka (VUB)

NR

A2

NR

12.5

 19,045

31-Dec-2018

Slovenia

NLB Group

BB+

NR

BBB—

0

14,592

31-Dec-2018

Turkey

Turkiye Kalkinma ve Yatirim Bankasi

BB—

NR

NR

—8

2,973

31-Dec-2018

Ukraine

Savings Bank of Ukraine

B—

Caa1

NR

—21

7,771

31-Dec-2018

Uzbekistan

Uzbek Industrial and Construction Bank

BB—

NR

NR

—12

3,001

31-Dec-2017


Asia

Bangladesh

BRAC Bank

NR

B1

B+

—13

3,563

31-Dec-2018

Brunei

Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam

NR

NR

A—

9

7,137

31-Dec-2017

Cambodia

ACLEDA Bank

NR

NR

B+

—15

5,641

31-Dec-2018

China

China Development Bank

A+

A1

A+

18

2,360,984

31-Dec-2018

Hong Kong

Hang Seng Bank

A+

Aa2

AA—

21

200,666

31-Dec-2018

India

State Bank of India

BBB—

Baa2

BBB—

4

555,998

31-Mar-2019

Indonesia

Bank Central Asia

BBB

Baa2

NR

5

56,718

31-Dec-2018

Japan

Shizuoka Bank

A

A1

A

16

106,224

31-Mar-2019

Macau

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (Macau)

A

A2

NR

14

38,551

31-Dec-2018

Malaysia

Maybank

A—

A3

A—

12

194,175

31-Dec-2017

Mongolia

Trade and Development Bank of Mongolia

NR

B3

B

—17.5

 2,770

31-Dec-2018

Pakistan

Habib Bank

NR

Caa1

NR

—24

 22,766

30-Jun-2018

Papua and New Guinea

Bank of South Pacific

NR

NR

B

—18

6,714

31-Dec-2018

Philippines

Development Bank of the Philippines

BBB

NR

BBB+

6.5

11,903

31-Dec-2017

Singapore

DBS Bank

AA—

Aa1

AA—

23

402,439

31-Dec-2018

South Korea

Korea Development Bank

AA—

Aa2

AA

23

231,942

31-Dec-2018

Sri Lanka

National Savings Bank

B

NR

B

—16

5,771

31-Dec-2018

Taiwan 

Bank of Taiwan

NR

Aa3

A+

18.5

 164,171

31-Dec-2018

Thailand

Bank of Ayudhya

A—

Baa1

BBB+

10

67,052

31-Dec-2018

Vietnam

Vietcombank

BB—

B1

BB—

—10

47,055

31-Dec-2018


Middle East

Bahrain

Gulf International Bank

BBB+

Baa1

NR

8

27,546

31-Dec-2018

Egypt

National Bank of Egypt

B+

B3

B

—15

86,234

31-Dec-2018

Iraq

Trade Bank of Iraq 

B—

NR

NR

—21

21,146

31-Dec-2018

Israel

Bank Hapoalim

A

A2

A

15

122,229

31-Dec-2018

Jordan

Arab Bank

BB

B2

B+

—11

36,000

31-Dec-2018

Kuwait

National Bank of Kuwait

AA—

Aa3

A+

20

 90,327

31-Dec-2018

Lebanon

Bank Audi

B—

Caa1

B—

—19

47,201

31-Dec-2018

Oman

HSBC Bank Oman

BBB—

Ba2

NR

—2.5

6,131

31-Dec-2018

Qatar

Qatar National Bank

A+

Aa3

A

18

 236,786

31-Dec-2018

Saudi Arabia

Saudi British Bank

A—

A1

NR

14

 46,534

31-Dec-2018

UAE

First Abu Dhabi Bank

AA—

Aa3

AA—

21

 202,585

31-Dec-2018


Africa

Angola

Banco Angolano de Investimentos

NR

Caa1

NR

—24

 6,595

31-Dec-2018

Democratic Republic of Congo

Rawbank

NR

Caa2

NR

—27

 1,689

31-Dec-2018

Ghana

United Bank for Africa (Ghana)

B

NR

NR

—18

739

31-Dec-2018

Kenya

Stanbic Bank Kenya

BB—

NR

NR

—12

2,759

31-Dec-2018

Mauritius

Mauritius Commercial Bank

BBB—

Baa2

NR

3.5

 11,080

31-Dec-2018

Morocco

BMCE Bank

BB+

Ba1

NR

—4

30,897

31-Dec-2018

Namibia

Development Bank of Namibia

BB+

NR

NR

—6

652

31-Mar-2018

Nigeria

Zenith Bank

B+

B2

B

—14

19,443

31-Dec-2018

Senegal

United Bank for Africa Senegal

B

NR

NR

—18

513

31-Dec-2018

South Africa

Standard Bank of South Africa

BB+

Baa3

NR

—1

94,513

31-Dec-2018

Tanzania

CRDB Bank

NR

B2

NR

—16

2,649

30-Jun-2018

Togo

Ecobank Togo

B

B2

B—

—16

22,582

31-Dec-2018

Tunisia

Arab Tunisian Bank

BB—

B3

B

—14

2,139

31-Dec-2018

Uganda

Stanbic Bank Uganda

B+

B3

NR

—16

1,452

31-Dec-2018


Australasia

Australia

ANZ Banking Group

AA—

Aa3

AA—

21

694,368

31-Mar-2019

New Zealand

Kiwibank

AA—

A1

A

19

 14,556

31-Dec-2018

Asset figures from Fitch, Moody’s, and company reports. Ratings valid on as of August 31, 2019.

Methodology

To be eligible for inclusion in the Country Winner rankings, banks must be among the largest 1,000 banks by assets and also carry at least one long-term foreign currency deposit or debt rating from one of the three major ratings agencies.  In order to capture the safest bank for each country, the criteria must be broader than for the global rankings, which require a position among the largest 500 banks and at least two agency ratings.