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JPMorgan Tops Bank List; RBS Posts Biggest Loss

JPMorgan tops a list of the world's strongest banks, while Royal Bank of Scotland suffered the biggest loss of any lender last year, according to new industry rankings on Wednesday.

Sharon Lorimer

RBS's $59.3 billion loss last year eclipsed all rivals, including Citigroup's $53 billion loss and Wells Fargo's $47.8 billion loss, according to The Banker magazine.

Global bank profits slumped 85 percent last year to $115 billion, down from $781 billion, and return on equity plunged to 2.69 percent from 20 percent, the magazine estimated.

JPMorgan topped The Banker's annual list of the strongest 1,000 global banks, moving up from fourth place a year earlier. The rankings, which have run since the 1970s, are based on capital strength, or the amount of Tier 1 capital held.

Bank of America ranked second, Citigroup was third and RBS was fourth, despite the problems for all three last year. JPMorgan was helped by its takeover of Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual and Bank of America was boosted by its acquisition of Merrill Lynch.

HSBC fell to fifth spot from first, but it was the only one of the top five not to receive any government support, and would rank third if government support was stripped out, The Banker said.

Mitsubishi UFJ was the highest ranked Asian bank in seventh, a place ahead of China's ICBC.

ICBC was the most profitable bank last year with earnings of $21.3 billion, the Banker estimated.

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The five most profitable banks were all from China or Spain. China Construction Bank ranked second with a $17.5 billion profit, followed by Santander ($15.8 billion), Bank of China ($12.6 billion) and BBVA (9.6 billion).

They were followed by Britain's HSBC ($9.3 billion) and Barclays ($8.9 billion).

Banks