THE British financial magazine The Banker (published by the Financial Times) has named Spain's Banco Popular Espanol as the best bank of the year, citing its overall efficiency, its leadership in innovation and technology, together with its commercial and investment strategies. It also named Grupo Santander as the best bank in Latin America for the second successive year. These accolades are only a relatively small part of the picture one has of Spain as a country which continues to push forward aggressively in international industrial and commercial fields. Another recent piece of news was that both Nissan Motor and the Volkswagen Seat operation have reaffirmed their intention to increase their investments in Catalunya; the announcements were made at the Frankfurt International Motor Show. Nissan plans to invest 400 million euros at the Martorell plant to produce its new sports utility vehicle DuneHawk, the first of a new generation of SUVs due in 2005. Volkswagen said that it has already spent 160 million euros on research and development on the Altea model in Barcelona and will invest a further 1.254 billion euros on launching the range. Catalunya has also been ear-marked by the Spanish government for the possible ITER reactor designed to create nuclear fusion “Sun on earth”, as Prime Minister Aznar described it when visiting the town of Vandellos with Jordi Pujol. An international project with a 4.5 billion euros investment, INTER is also wanted by France, Canada and Japan. A decision on which EU country should go forward for consideration will be made later this month.


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