Banks Without Borders


OPEN ARMS: Botín, left, and Arnold announce the merger in London

Ever since the euro was introduced in 1999, financial experts have predicted that it would lead to the sweeping, Continent-wide consolidation of many European industries, particularly the crowded banking sector. The dream was that a single European currency would leap over national priorities and prompt banks to reach across borders for merger partners, the better to compete with America's megabanks.

But a funny thing happened on the way to banking consolidation: nothing. Except for a few small deals, such as the 2000 takeovers of Bank Austria by Munich-based HVB, and Unidanmark by Swedish-Finnish lender MeritaNordbanken, banks have preferred...

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