18 U.S. Banks Among World's Best Earners

U.S. banks continue to rank among the world's most profitable, despite their well-publicized problems, according to the London-based rating agency IBCA Ltd.

A study by the agency, which included data up to yearend 1990, showed that 18 U.S. banks figured among the top 50 in profits.

Banc One of Ohio, which placed second among the world's top earning banks, led all U.S. banks for the third consecutive year.

On the basis of performance through the first nine months of 1991, Banc One "stands a good chance of going for four in a row," IBCA said in a statement Thursday.

In contrast, Wells Fargo & Co., which placed right behind Banc One in both 1990 and 1989, is not likely to again rank third on the list. Its performance through the first nine months has been adversely affected by highly leveraged transactions and real estate problems.

The Most Profitable

The credit rating agency ranked Spain's Banco Popular Espano as the world's most profitable.

The bank is one of six Spanish banks that ranked among the top 50 in profits and managed to combine strong capital, good asset quality, and high profits, IBCA stated.

In contrast, none of Britain's four biggest banks figured among the top 50.

Three of them, National Westminister Bank PLC, Barclays Bank PLC, and Midland Bank PLC, along with Citicorp, were included in a group of 61 institutions that had a negative real return on capital.

Japanese banks also ranked notably low.

Sumitomo Bank Ltd., the top-earning Japanese banking, ranked only 145th in profitability.

The top 10 banks, according to net income adjusted to inflation, capital levels, and accounting standards, were (in rank order): Banco Popular Espanol, Banc One, Wells Fargo, Italy's Mediobanca, Spain's Banco Santander, Sweden's Gota Bank, Bank of Taiwan, Spain's Banco Bilbao Vizcaya, Wachovia Corp., and Bankers Trust Corp.

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