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Mizuho Financial Group
Global 500 rank: 228
2008 loss ($ millions): 5,861

Given that Japan's banks only recently emerged from a decade-long overhang of bad real estate loans, it's ironic that the country's second largest financial institution bet big on mortgage investments in the United States.

Mizuho began 2008 as a savior, providing Merrill Lynch with $1.2 billion in much-needed capital. But the same forces that brought down Merrill (eventually forcing it into a merger with Bank of America) also nearly brought down its white knight. Mizuho lost over $8 billion in two years on subprime-loan mortgage backed securities -- more than any other bank in Asia. Further losses came on Mizuho's holdings of stakes in Japanese companies. The relatively strong consumer credit market in Japan, where for many families saving money is already the norm, helped keep the bank afloat.

NEXT: Deutsche Bank
Last updated July 08 2009: 12:11 PM ET
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