Which Firm Is Sitting On Top Of The World ?

Well, it's Bank of America. At least for the moment.

Bank of America's share price has risen 18% this year. It's small increase Tuesday was enough to take its market capitalization 0.1% higher than Citigroup's. Bank of America, with a market cap of $243.52bn, is now officially the biggest bank in the world.

Although there was said to have been no champagne in Charlotte, a BofA spokesperson did say that the firm is happy that the market is 'recognising the progress we're making'.

As The Wall Street Journal points out, the rise of Bank of America is a 'personal triumph' for CEO Ken Lewis, 'who inherited (in 2001) a bank cobbled together through a two-decade acquisition spree'. Under Lewis's leadership, BofA's market cap has tripled. And the big deals he has done - Fleet and MBNA - have proved to be good ones. BofA's net income during the past 5 years has been up on average 17% per annum (compared to Citigroup's 10%).

Just 5 years ago Citigroup's market cap was twice that of BofA - Citigroup's market cap has actually fallen 1.5% from November 30th, 2001. Bank of America's has risen 147%! And although share price movements are likely to mean that the top two banks will change places a few times in the months to come, Citigroup is no longer the undisputed top dog.

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