The fortunes of the headhunters who serve Asia’s banking industry have mirrored those of their clients through the financial crisis: a severe plunge; an unexpected bounce; and a reshaping of the industry along the way. And with job-hopping among bankers continuing and their salary levels back at stratospheric levels good times are back for the headhunters. Chris Wright reports.
Powering ahead: JP Morgan has become a banking powerhouse throughout much of the world, but until recently had made quieter progress in Asia. But the progress it made in 2009 in particular was notable. In a year when others were distracted by their own problems, JP Morgan delivered superior capital markets and trading solutions to clients and counterparties across the region and is IFR Asia’s Bank of the Year.
Ultra sleek: Asia’s largest issuers relied on the G3 public offshore market in 2009 as the arena of choice for funding in size and long tenor, and achieving investor diversity. In the face of intense competition among banks for prestigious G3 deals, no house excelled more without balance sheet support than Deutsche Bank, IFR Asia’s Bond House of the Year.
Abundant nobility: While most of corporate Asia reeled under the onslaught of the global turmoil, Noble Group had a truly transformational year raising a whopping US$4.8bn from debt and equity markets. In the process, it created credit capacity, smoothed its debt maturity profile, established strategic relationships and armed itself with a huge cash hoard to drive its business forward. Noble Group is IFR Asia’s Issuer of the Year and its US$2.4bn three-tranche loan is Singapore Capital Markets Deal of the Year.
Hitting all the high notes: In line with the global bond market, Asian local currency debt markets continued to print at a hectic pace, raising even larger amounts than 2008. In this environment, one firm’s pan-Asian domestic bond franchise strengthened and expanded, bringing cross-border deals and debut landmark structured transactions to tightly-held local markets. HSBC is IFR Asia’s Domestic Bond House of the Year.
Homemade brew: In March, San Miguel Brewery achieved an unimaginable feat raising a chunky Ps38.8bn in a three-tranche bond issue. The deal marked the biggest single corporate bond in the domestic debt markets in the Philippines, and opened the floodgates to large issues that followed in its wake. It stands as IFR Asia’s Domestic Bond and Philippines Capital Markets Deal of the Year.
Trust ME:It was as if the sub-prime crisis had never happened. Here was a massive RMBS deal that was widely sold down, attracted significant foreign investor interest, and established a longer tenor in a tough market. And all without government support. ME Bank’s SMHL Securitisation Fund 2009-2 was a landmark deal in the Australian market and is IFR Asia’s Securitisation Deal of the Year.
Standing tall: Financial markets changed radically through 2009 and the market’s demands of the derivatives product changed with them. The first part of the year was all about providing liquidity and liability management; the second was about getting positioned to benefit from the expected rally, and the final part was about preparing for an uncertain future. For leading all three trends, Deutsche Bank is IFR Asia’s Derivatives House of the Year.
Raising the standard: In what was an extremely difficult year for all market participants, Standard Chartered displayed remarkable resilience and commitment to deliver to clients. It managed to plough through the conditions and featured on the landmark loans, with gutsy underwritten commitments. For its bold and unwavering approach that made it stand out from the pack, Standard Chartered is IFR Asia’s Loan House of the Year.
Malt from the Orient: KKR’s US$1.8bn buyout of Oriental Brewery – its first investment into South Korea – was riddled with twists and turns and plenty of drama. The W1.14trn (US$900m) financing backing the acquisition marked the only leveraged financing of significance from Asia in 2009 and overcame extremely challenging conditions in credit markets. It is IFR Asia’s Loan of the Year and South Korea Capital Markets Deal of the Year.
Sheer dominance: In a year marked by market volatility and stress, particularly for the financial sector, UBS excelled because of its distribution strength and featured on almost every high-profile offering from Asian ECM markets. For its near-total dominance and great execution skills – the bank’s hallmark for many years – during one of the most challenging market conditions, UBS is IFR Asia’s Equity House of the Year and Australia and New Zealand Equity House of the Year.
Chemical attraction:Sinopharm’s Hong Kong IPO achieved the highest valuation ever for a Chinese state-owned enterprise being listed offshore and set a benchmark valuation for China’s pharmaceutical sector. The transaction also launched Sinopharm onto the world stage and is IFR Asia’s Equity Deal of the Year.
Finger on the pulse: In a nervy equity-linked market in 2009, banks grappled to strike the right balance between satisfying the demands of issuers and investors. Few, barring Credit Suisse, managed consistently to come up with solutions that worked. The Swiss bank played a role in almost all the landmark transactions, making it IFR Asia’s Equity-linked House of the Year.
Return to Islam: When the Republic of Indonesia launched its maiden US dollar Islamic bond in April, it was over two years since a sukuk in a Reg S/144a format, and almost four years since an Asian global sukuk had been sold. For reopening the global sukuk market amid fragile economic conditions worldwide, Indonesia’s sukuk is IFR Asia’s Islamic Deal of the Year.
Sleepless in Sydney: Transpacific Industries Group’s A$2.3bn debt restructuring stood out as one of the most complex recapitalisation transactions originated in Australia in recent corporate history and also repositioned TPI for growth. For its scale and capital structure transformation, it is IFR Asia’s Restructuring Deal of the Year.
Innovative engineering: The Asian equity-linked market was not a hotbed of innovation in 2009 and banks found it difficult to get even simple structures away. In an environment lacking structuring ingenuity, one deal stood out against the grain. Larsen & Toubro’s US$600m double-barrelled offering in October overcame a major regulatory hurdle in India that had blocked a huge QIP pipeline. For its path-setting nature, the deal wins IFR Asia’s Equity-linked Deal of the Year.
Quenching the thirst: It took more than 18 months to come to market, but when it did the A$3.67bn project financing for the Victorian Desalination Plant blew everything else out of the water. For its huge size and getting done in an environment of severe liquidity constraints, the deal is IFR Asia’s Australia and New Zealand Loan of the Year.
Blazing a trail: China’s domestic bond market provided a credible funding venue for PRC issuers even as conditions in the G3 market were tricky and volatile. Among the domestic houses, Citic Securities stood out for serving a wide range of issuers and contributing to the development of China’s capital markets. It wins IFR Asia’s China Bond House of the Year for the third year in a row.
Picking its spots: With huge issuance volumes, China ECM was the busiest market in Asia in 2009. With the domestic A-share market closed by PRC regulators for the first half of the year, fierce competition for mandates outside that market meant that banks with strong distribution capabilities prevailed. Morgan Stanley thrived in this environment, winning pole positions on almost all significant equity offerings and is IFR Asia’s China Equity House of the Year.
Link and bond: HSBC’s Rmb1bn Shibor-linked floater was a ground-breaking transaction that brought together the tightly controlled renminbi market and the outside world. The deal marked the first ever renminbi bond offer by a foreign bank outside mainland China and is IFR Asia’s Hong Kong Capital Markets Deal of the Year.
Crowning glory: It is very easy for a subsidiary to bask in the glory of its rich parent and equally difficult to carve out its own niche. As the wholly owned subsidiary of State Bank of India, the country’s largest bank, SBI Capital Markets did exactly the opposite. It created its own persona in the domestic market with a vice-like grip on every possible financing opportunity that cropped up in India’s rupee loan markets and is IFR Asia’s India Loan House of the Year.
Stealing the limelight: Indian ECM was full of stops and starts in 2009 as sentiment swayed along with secondary market volatility. In a climate where fee-making opportunities were limited and distribution strength was severely tested, banks winning sole mandates or roles in high-profile deals stood out. Morgan Stanley stole the limelight with some path-setting transactions and strong execution. It is IFR Asia’s India Equity House of the Year.
Expanding the horizons: 2009 was an atypical year for the Indian bond market. While it saw heightened volatility in tandem with the global credit crisis, it continued to offer ample liquidity. For taking advantage of this liquidity and relentlessly expanding the horizons of the rupee debt markets, Citigroup is IFR Asia’s India Bond House of the Year.
Larger than life: Liquidity was tight in the ringgit bond markets in 2009 amid a pullback from local investors. In this challenging environment, CIMB Investment Bank contributed to the growth of the domestic bond market with its structuring capabilities and balance sheet strength, while dominating the market with its unmatched ability to meet its customers’ needs. It is IFR Asia’s Malaysia Bond House of the Year.
Mining all round: An unusual financing for the acquisition of Bukti Makmur Mandiri Utama (Buma) was completed in quick time under challenging market conditions. The financing straddled multiple asset classes and was critical to the success of the buyout. The deal is IFR Asia’s Indonesia Capital Markets Deal of the Year.
Braving it alone: Unusual times calls for unusual actions. When financial solutions to borrowers were scarce and there was no clear visibility on the improvement in the credit environment, DBS Bank stepped up to the challenge in Singapore by supporting its clients from across the credit spectrum. DBS was able to deliver results when it mattered the most and is IFR Asia’s Singapore Loan House of the Year.
Blast from the past:There was a lot at stake in July when talk emerged that telco Maxis might make a return to the Malaysian stock exchange, given the political pressure for the deal to succeed, its huge size and wobbly financial markets. But smooth execution and overwhelming investor demand dismissed any scepticism of its success making the M$11.2bn IPO IFR Asia’s Malaysian Capital Markets Deal of the Year.
Dominant force: One bank stood out in Taiwan in 2009 as a creative risk taker and a leader in revitalising the country’s loan market. It reopened and led the leveraged financing sector with a number of innovative deals and brought a plethora of new borrowers to the market under difficult circumstances. Chinatrust Commercial Bank is IFR Asia’s Taiwan Loan House of the Year.
Recapitalise or go bust: Successful fundraising is crucial for any company looking to boost its competitiveness, but for Shin Kong Financial it turned out to be a lifesaver. A US$375m GDR was the key component of a rescue financing package, and the decisive factor in the company’s dramatic turnaround. The transaction was also the largest equity offering from Taiwan’s financial sector in five years and is IFR Asia’s Taiwan Capital Markets Deal of the Year.
Smashing records: It was a watershed year for Thailand’s baht bond market with issuance soaring to record highs – a dramatic spike over the numbers seen in 2008. One bank stood out for having structured innovative deals and featuring prominently on marquee transactions by Thailand’s largest corporates. For that reason Bangkok Bank is IFR Asia’s Thailand Bond House of the Year.