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The World's Safest Banks 2009

The World’s Safest Banks

In a global economy that has been plagued by troubles in the world’s financial systems, the words “safe” and “bank” are rarely put together. The shakeup of banking systems around the world raises the question: "Which banks are the safe banks?" These rankings are being published first on CNBC.com.For the past 18 years, Global Finance has produced a list of the World’s 50 Safest Banks, and as the markets move away from their March lows, many banks remain a point of market uncertainty, and long-ter
Source: Global Finance: World’s 50 Safest Banks, European Central Bank, Other Central Banks

In a global economy that has been plagued by troubles in the world’s financial systems, the words “safe” and “bank” are rarely put together. The shakeup of banking systems around the world raises the question: "Which banks are the safe banks?" These rankings are being published first on CNBC.com.

For the past 18 years, Global Finance has produced a list of the World’s 50 Safest Banks, and as the markets move away from their March lows, many banks remain a point of market uncertainty, and long-term safety is of key interest. This ranking of safe banks was created through the comparison of long-term credit ratings (from Moody’s Standard & Poor’s and Fitch) and analysis of total assets owned by the 500 largest banks in the world.

For ease of comparison, we’ve listed the highest ranking bank in each country, as well as key statistics for each country’s banking system. The size of the banking system was determined by value of assets held by the country's banks. It may surprise you where the safest banks in the world are located... click ahead to find out!

By Paul Toscano
Posted 24 Aug 2009

United Arab Emirates

National Bank of Abu Dhabi (#50)Size: 1,223 billion AEDKey Interest Rate: 1%Number of Commercial Banks: 46The second largest bank in the United Arab Emirates, the National Bank of Abu Dhabi is also the safest, according to Global Finance. With total assets of $44.8 billion and a market capitalization of $4.8 billion as of Dec 31 2008, the bank is also over 70% owned by the government with foreign ownership limited to 25% of equity. The bank is listed on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX).
Source: Central Bank of the UAE, National Bank of Abu Dhabi

National Bank of Abu Dhabi (#50)

Banking Industry Stats
Size: 1,223 billion AED
Key Interest Rate: 1%
Number of Commercial Banks: 46

The second largest bank in the United Arab Emirates, the National Bank of Abu Dhabi is also the safest, according to Global Finance. With total assets of $44.8 billion and a market capitalization of $4.8 billion as of Dec 31 2008, the bank is also over 70% owned by the government with foreign ownership limited to 25% of equity. The bank is listed on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX).

Japan

Shizuoka Bank (#48 Worldwide)Size: 8,014 billion (JPY)Key Interest Rate: 0.1%Number of Commercial Banks: 39Shizuoka Bank enters into the rankings as the 49th safest bank in the world, and safest in Japan, according to Global Finance. As of March 2008, the bank lists its assets at $90.8 billion and is Japan’s largest regional bank, overseeing 166 branches and 21 sub-branches. The company has a market cap of approximately $6.85 billion.
Source: Financial Services Agency, Japan Bankers Association

Shizuoka Bank (#48 Worldwide)

Banking Industry Stats
Size: 8,014 billion (JPY)
Key Interest Rate: 0.1%
Number of Commercial Banks: 39

Shizuoka Bank enters into the rankings as the 49th safest bank in the world, and safest in Japan, according to Global Finance. As of March 2008, the bank lists its assets at $90.8 billion and is Japan’s largest regional bank, overseeing 166 branches and 21 sub-branches. The company has a market cap of approximately $6.85 billion.

Kuwait

National Bank of Kuwait (#38 Worldwide)Size: $10.94 billionKey Interest Rate: 3%Number of Commercial Banks: 6Kuwait has 6 commercial banks, 3 Islamic banks and 1 specialized bank registered with the Central Bank of Kuwait as of June 2009. According to the company, the National Bank of Kuwait boasts an unbroken record of rising profits since 1952, reaching $925 million in 2008. NBK is among the most valuable Arab companies, with a market capitalization of $11.2 billion as of December 2008.
Source: Central Bank of Kuwait

National Bank of Kuwait (#38 Worldwide)

Banking Industry Stats
Size: $10.94 billion
Key Interest Rate: 3%
Number of Commercial Banks: 6

Kuwait has 6 commercial banks, 3 Islamic banks and 1 specialized bank registered with the Central Bank of Kuwait as of June 2009. According to the company, the National Bank of Kuwait boasts an unbroken record of rising profits since 1952, reaching $925 million in 2008. NBK is among the most valuable Arab companies, with a market capitalization of $11.2 billion as of December 2008.

Portugal

Caixa Geral de Depositos (#34 Worldwide)Size: 440 billion eurosKey Interest Rate: 1%Total Credit Institutions: 175Portugal’s Caixa Geral de Depositos ranks 34th overall in Global Finance’s 2009 rankings. A government-owned entity, it’s the only Portuguese bank on the list, and the largest in the country. Caixa Geral also conducts international operations in Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas.
Source: European Central Bank, Banco de Portugal

Caixa Geral de Depositos (#34 Worldwide)

Banking Industry Stats
Size: 440 billion euros
Key Interest Rate: 1%
Total Credit Institutions: 175

Portugal’s Caixa Geral de Depositos ranks 34th overall in Global Finance’s 2009 rankings. A government-owned entity, it’s the only Portuguese bank on the list, and the largest in the country. Caixa Geral also conducts international operations in Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas.

Norway

DnB NOR Bank (#33 Worldwide)Banking Industry StatsSize: 440 billion eurosKey Interest Rate: 1.25%Total Commercial Banks: 19Norway also makes the list with DnB NoR Bank, at 33rd overall. The company reports that they have more than 2.3 million retail customers, 200,000 corporate customers and 1.6 billion NOK in total assets. The company has a market capitalization of $13.1 billion.
Source: Norges Bank, DnB NOR Bank

DnB NOR Bank (#33 Worldwide)

Banking Industry Stats
Size: 440 billion euros
Key Interest Rate: 1.25%
Total Commercial Banks: 19

Norway also makes the list with DnB NoR Bank, at 33rd overall. The company reports that they have more than 2.3 million retail customers, 200,000 corporate customers and 1.6 billion NOK in total assets. The company has a market capitalization of $13.1 billion.

United States

The Bank of New York Mellon (#32 Worldwide)Size: $11,120 billionKey Interest Rate: 0%-0.25%Total Commercial Banks: 1,750**In the Global Finance rankings of the world’s safest banks, the US banking industry only has 6 of the top 50. Bank of NY Mellon is the most highly-ranked American bank, but only finds itself at #32 overall, with a market cap of $34.8 billion. JPMorgan is listed at #39, while Wells Fargo (#42), US Bancorp (#47), and Northern Trust (#49) are the only other US banks on the list.
Source: US Federal Reserve

The Bank of New York Mellon (#32 Worldwide)

Banking Industry Stats*
Size: $11.12 trillion
Key Interest Rate: 0%-0.25%
Total Commercial Banks: 1,750**

In the Global Finance rankings of the world’s safest banks, the US banking industry only has 6 of the top 50. Bank of NY Mellon is the most highly-ranked American bank, but only finds itself at #32 overall, with a market cap of $34.8 billion. JPMorgan is listed at #39, while Wells Fargo (#42), US Bancorp (#47), and Northern Trust (#49) are the only other US banks on the list.

* US Federal Reserve data as of 3/31/09
** Insured US-Chartered Commercial Banks that have consolidated assets of $300 million or more

Italy

Intesa Sanpaolo (#29 Worldwide)Size: 3.3 trillion eurosKey Interest Rate: 1%Total Credit Institutions: 821Italy’s Intesa Sanpaolo is Italy’s only bank to make the list, ranked #29 overall. According to the company, it serves approximately 11.4 million customers in over 6,500 branches. Intesa Sanpaolo has a market cap of $32.8 billion euro as of March 31, 2009.
Source: European Central Bank, Bank of Italy

Intesa Sanpaolo (#29 Worldwide)

Banking Industry Stats
Size: 3,300 billion euros
Key Interest Rate: 1%
Total Credit Institutions: 821

Italy’s Intesa Sanpaolo is Italy’s only bank to make the list, ranked #29 overall. According to the company, it serves approximately 11.4 million customers in over 6,500 branches. Intesa Sanpaolo has a market cap of $32.8 billion euro as of March 31, 2009.

Finland

Pohjola Bank (#27 Worldwide)Size: 288 billion eurosKey Interest Rate: 1%Total Credit Institutions: 360Finland’s Pohjola Bank, ranked 27th overall, is the country’s only bank to make the list. Traded on the Helsinki Stock Exchange, the institution has a market cap of $1.95 billion.
Source: European Central Bank, NASDAQ OMX

Pohjola Bank (#27 Worldwide)

Banking Industry Stats
Size: 288 billion euros
Key Interest Rate: 1%
Total Credit Institutions: 360

Finland’s Pohjola Bank, ranked 27th overall, is the country’s only bank to make the list. Traded on the Helsinki Stock Exchange (OMX), the institution has a market cap of $1.95 billion.

Singapore

DBS Bank (#24 Worldwide)Size: $474.52 billionKey Interest Rate: 0.19%Total Commercial Banks: 12In Singapore, the safest bank on the rankings is DBS Bank, which operates 79 branches in Singapore, and has operations throughout Asia. DBS Group Holdings is the largest commercial banking group in Southeast Asia and is listed on the Singapore Exchange (SGX).United Overseas BankOversea-Chinese Banking Corp
Source: Monetary Authority of Singapore, Economywatch.com

DBS Bank (#24 Worldwide)

Banking Industry Stats
Size: $474.52 billion
Key Interest Rate: 0.19%
Total Commercial Banks: 12

In Singapore, the safest bank on the rankings is DBS Bank, which operates 79 branches in Singapore, and has operations throughout Asia. DBS Group Holdings is the largest commercial banking group in Southeast Asia and is listed on the Singapore Exchange (SGX).

Other Banks in Top 50
United Overseas Bank
Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp

Sweden

Nordea Bank (#21 Worldwide)Size:  846 billion eurosKey Interest Rate:  0.25%Total Commercial Banks: 17Sweden has a relatively high proportion of its banks (2 out of 17, or approximately 12%) listed as among the 50 safest banks in the world, with Nordea Bank the country’s highest ranked at #21. Nordea Bank has a market capitalization of $296.3 billion.Svenska Handelsbanken
Source: European Central Bank, Sveriges Riksbank

Nordea Bank (#21 Worldwide)

Banking Industry Stats
Size:  846 billion euros
Key Interest Rate:  0.25%
Total Commercial Banks: 17

Sweden has a relatively high proportion of its banks (2 out of 17, or approximately 12%) listed as among the 50 safest banks in the world, with Nordea Bank the country’s highest ranked at #21. Nordea Bank has a market capitalization of $296.3 billion.

Other Banks in Top 50
Svenska Handelsbanken

United Kingdom

HSBC Holdings (#18 Worldwide)Size: 10 trillion eurosKey Interest Rate: 0.5%Total Commercial Banks: 64One of the largest banking systems in the world, the UK only manages to get 2 out of the 64 UK-based commercial banks on the top 50 list. Ranked 18th on the list, HSBC, with a market cap of $114.26 billion, is the country’s largest bank.Nationwide Building Society
Source: European Central Bank, Bank of England

HSBC Holdings (#18 Worldwide)

Banking Industry Stats
Size: 10 trillion euros
Key Interest Rate: 0.5%
Total Commercial Banks: 64

One of the largest banking systems in the world, the UK only manages to get 2 out of the 64 UK-based commercial banks on the top 50 list. Ranked 18th on the list, HSBC, with a market cap of $114.26 billion, is the country’s largest bank.

Other Banks in Top 50
Nationwide Building Society

New Zealand

ASB Bank Limited (#17 Worldwide)Size: $384.6 billion (NZD)Key Interest Rate: 2.5%Total Commercial Banks: 9New Zealand also manages to make the list, with ASB Bank Limited ranked at #17. This New Zealand bank is part of the ASB group, which composed of 7 banking and financial firms, and is the country’s only bank on the list.
Source: Reserve Bank of New Zealand

ASB Bank Limited (#17 Worldwide)

Banking Industry Stats
Size: $384.6 billion (NZD)
Key Interest Rate: 2.5%
Total Commercial Banks: 9

New Zealand also manages to make the list, with ASB Bank Limited ranked at #17. This Kiwi bank is part of the ASB group, which composed of 7 banking and financial firms, and is the country’s only bank on the list.

Spain

Banco Santander (#13 Worldwide)Size: 2,900 billion eurosKey Interest Rate: 1%Total Credit Institutions: 357With four banks on this year’s list, Spain has a wealth of safe banks compared to many other countries. Banco Santander finds itself ranked #13 worldwide, commanding a market capitalization of $128.42 billion.Banco Bilbao Vizcaya ArgentariaBanco Espanol de Credito S.A.Caja de Ahorros y Pensiones de Barcelona
Source: European Central Bank, Bank of Spain

Banco Santander (#13 Worldwide)

Banking Industry Stats
Size: 2,900 billion euros
Key Interest Rate: 1%
Total Credit Institutions: 357

With four banks on this year’s list, Spain has a wealth of safe banks compared to many other countries. Banco Santander finds itself ranked #13 worldwide, commanding a market capitalization of $128.42 billion.

Other Banks in Top 50
Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria
Banco Espanol de Credito S.A.
Caja de Ahorros y Pensiones de Barcelona

Australia

National Australia Bank (#11 Worldwide)Size: $2,150 billionKey Interest Rate: 3%Total Commercial Banks: 14Down under, the safest bank on the rankings is the National Bank of Australia, with a market cap of 34.28 billion AU. Three other banks in the country also make the list.Commonwealth Bank of AustraliaAustralia & New Zealand Banking GroupWestpac Banking Corporation
Source: Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, Reserve Bank of Australia

National Australia Bank (#11 Worldwide)

Banking Industry Stats
Size: $2,150 billion
Key Interest Rate: 3%
Total Commercial Banks: 14

Down under, the safest bank on the rankings is the National Bank of Australia, with a market cap of 34.28 billion AU. Three other banks in the country also make the list.

Other Banks in Top 50
Commonwealth Bank of Australia
Australia & New Zealand Banking Group
Westpac Banking Corporation


Canada

Royal Bank of Canada (#10 Worldwide)Size: $1.902 trillion (Canadian)Key Interest Rate: 0.25%Total Commercial Banks: 21Canada’s banks make over half of the North American institutions listed on the rankings from Global Finance. Topping the Canadian banks is the Royal Bank of Canada, the country’s biggest bank with a market cap of $66.81 billion.Toronto-Dominion BankScotia BankCaisse centrale DesjardinsBank of MontrealCBIC
Source: Bank of Canada

Royal Bank of Canada (#10 Worldwide)

Banking Industry Stats
Size: $1,902 billion (Canadian)
Key Interest Rate: 0.25%
Total Commercial Banks: 21

Canada’s banks make over half of the North American institutions listed on the rankings from Global Finance. Topping the Canadian banks is the Royal Bank of Canada, the country’s biggest bank with a market cap of $66.81 billion.

Other Banks in Top 50
Toronto-Dominion Bank
Scotia Bank
Caisse centrale Desjardins
Bank of Montreal
CBIC

Switzerland

Zuercher Kantonalbank (#5 Worldwide)Size: $2,855 billionKey Interest Rate: 0.25%Total Credit Institutions: 205The Swiss banking system is represented in Global Finance's rankings by three banks, led by Zuercher Kantonalbank with international players Credit Suisse and UBS finding themselves lower in the list. Zuercher Kantonalbank, a , has assets of $106.41 and places at #5 on this year’s list.Credit SuisseUBS AG
Source: European Central Bank, Swiss National Bank, Zurcher Kantonalbank

Zuercher Kantonalbank (#5 Worldwide)

Banking Industry Stats
Size: $2,855 billion
Key Interest Rate: 0.25%
Total Credit Institutions: 205

The Swiss banking system is represented in Global Finance's rankings by three banks, led by Zuercher Kantonalbank with international players Credit Suisse and UBS finding themselves lower in the list. Zuercher Kantonalbank, a cantonal bank, has assets of $106.41 and places at #5 on this year’s list.

Other Banks in Top 50
Credit Suisse
UBS AG

The Netherlands

Bank Nederlands Gemeenten (#3 Worldwide)Size: 2.2 trillion eurosKey Interest Rate: 1%Total Credit Institutions: 341The Bank Nederlandse Gemeenten (BNG) is one of the two Dutch banks finding itself in the top 6 safest banks in the world. A government-owned bank (50% by the Dutch government and 50% by municipalities), BNG is neck-and-neck in both domestic and worldwide rankings with the other Dutch firm Rabobank, which is ranked #6 by Global Finance.Rabobank
Source: European Central Bank, De Nederlandsche Bank

Bank Nederlands Gemeenten (#3 Worldwide)

Banking Industry Stats
Size: 2,200 billion euros
Key Interest Rate: 1%
Total Credit Institutions: 341

The Bank Nederlandse Gemeenten (BNG) is one of the two Dutch banks finding itself in the top 6 safest banks in the world. A government-owned bank (50% by the Dutch government and 50% by municipalities), BNG is neck-and-neck in both domestic and worldwide rankings with the other Dutch firm Rabobank, which is ranked #6 by Global Finance.

Other Banks in Top 50
Rabobank

France

Caisse des Depots et Consignations (#2 Worldwide)Size: 6.7 trillion eurosKey Interest Rate: 1%Total Credit Institutions: 808France is home to the World’s second-safest bank, according to Global Finance, one of 6 French banks on the list. Caisse des Depots et Consignations (CDC) is a public financial institution that performs public-interest missions on behalf of France’s central, regional and local governments.BNP ParibasCredit Agricole S.A.Societe Generale (SG)Banque Federative du Credit Mutuel
Source: European Central Bank, Banque de France

Caisse des Depots et Consignations (#2 Worldwide)

Banking Industry Stats
Size: 6,700 billion euros
Key Interest Rate: 1%
Total Credit Institutions: 808

France is home to the World’s second-safest bank, according to Global Finance, one of 6 French banks on the list. Caisse des Depots et Consignations (CDC) is a public financial institution that performs public-interest missions on behalf of France’s central, regional and local governments.

Other Banks in Top 50
BNP Paribas
Credit Agricole S.A.
Societe Generale (SG)
Banque Federative du Credit Mutuel
Credit Industriel et Commercial

Germany

KfW (#1 Worldwide)Size: 9.656 trillion eurosKey Interest Rate: 1%Total Credit Institutions: 1,838With five banks listed on Global Finance’s World’s 50 Safest Banks, Germany places four banks in the top ten, which includes KfW at #1 overall.  KfW is government owned and has been in operation for over 60 years, since 1948.Landwirtschaftliche RentenbankLandeskreditbank Baden-Wuerttemberg-FoerderbankNRW. BankDeutsche Bank AG
Source: European Central Bank, Deutsche Bundesbank

KfW (#1 Worldwide)

Banking Industry Stats
Size: 9,656 billion euros
Key Interest Rate: 1%
Total Credit Institutions: 1,838

With five banks listed on Global Finance’s World’s 50 Safest Banks, Germany places four banks in the top ten, which includes KfW at #1 overall.  KfW is government owned and has been in operation for over 60 years, since 1948.

Other Banks in Top 50
Landwirtschaftliche Rentenbank
Landeskreditbank Baden-Wuerttemberg-Foerderbank
NRW. Bank
Deutsche Bank AG