The impressive technological and institutional changes that occurred during the Nineties (ICT diffusion, UEM creation, privatisation and liberalisation world-wide trends, etc.) have stimulated major strategic and structural adjustments by large firms and banks in the Triad, mostly through an intensive wave of national and international mergers and acquisitions. The paper analyses the evolution of Europe competitiveness within the Triad vis-à-vis North America and Japan, and different growth rates of large firms and banks in each continent. The performance of Europe is showed to be mostly defensive, intermediate between the strong dynamism of North America, and the sharp decline of Japan during the second half of the decade. This was in accordance with the different attitude of social and economic models prevailing in each continent to fully take advantage from new technologies and international integration. A special analysis is dedicated to Italy's poor performance within European countries.