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The top 25 European banks by assets

Just a few hours ago, I posted an article about European toxic asset exposure based on a Telegraph article.  The crux of the Telegraph piece was that European banks have a shed load of bad debt on their books.  A secret European Commission document allegedly put the exposure of the European banks to ‘toxic’ assets at £16.3 trillion, which is reported to represent 44% of total European bank assets (this equates to a total asset base of $53 trillion assuming an exchange rate of 1.4355 for GDP/USD).  Leaving aside the question of just what qualifies as a dodgy or toxic credit, it bears understanding just how large (and leveraged) European banks are.

Below is a list of the largest European banks by assets at the end of 2007.  You should notice RBS is so large in relation to the UK economy that one wonders how the mergers which formed the enterprise were allowed to take place (Wikipedia puts British GDP at $2.78 trillion versus the $3.8 trillion in assets at RBS).  I use RBS as an example of the egregious nature of asset growth at European banks, but they are merely the largest of many such behemoths.  The aggregate total assets of the 23 banks on this list is $33 trillion.

1 Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC 3,801,038
2 Deutsche Bank AG 2,767,123
3 Barclays PLC 2,455,166
4 HSBC Holdings plc 2,354,266
5 BNP Paribas Group 2,321,170
6 Credit Agricole, S.A. 2,110,771
7 UBS AG 1,893,153
8 ING Groep N.V. 1,797,959
9 Société Générale 1,468,167
10 UniCredito Italiano Group 1,399,668
11 HBOS plc 1,333,894
12 Banco Santander Central Hispano S.A. 1,250,568
13 Fortis 1,193,151
14 Credit Suisse Group 1,133,503
15 Commerzbank AG 844,485
16 Dexia Group 828,170
17 Lloyds TSB Group plc 707,086
18 BBVA 687,951
19 Danske Bank 615,168
20 Landesbank Baden-Württemberg 607,430
21 Dresdner Bank AG 595,160
22 DZ BANK AG 590,873
23 Bayerische Landesbank 569,368

Sources
United Kingdom – Wikipedia
European bank bail-out could push EU into crisis – Telegraph
Top 25 European Banks – Data Monitor
Benchmark Currency Rates – Bloomberg

About 

Edward Harrison is the founder of Credit Writedowns and a former career diplomat, investment banker and technology executive with over twenty years of business experience. He is also a regular economic and financial commentator on BBC World News, CNBC Television, Business News Network, CBC, Fox Television and RT Television. He speaks six languages and reads another five, skills he uses to provide a more global perspective. Edward holds an MBA in Finance from Columbia University and a BA in Economics from Dartmouth College. Edward also writes a premium financial newsletter. Sign up here for a free trial.

1 Comment

  1. smoody says:

    According to the IMF, bank assets of the EU at end 2007 totaled USD 43.1 Trillion, or about 275% of EU GDP. Britain’s bank assets at EOY 2007 were USD 11.0 Trillion, or 392% of UK GDP. Basle II?