BEST ASIAN INVESTMENT BANK
Singapore’s DBS had an outstanding year across equity and debt capital markets, loan syndications, and mergers and acquisitions, making it the clear winner of GlobalCapital Asia’s Best Asian Investment Bank award.
While its presence in its home market is undoubtedly unrivalled, DBS has also managed to make headway outside of Singapore. For instance, it was active in originating and advising on cross-border mergers and acquisitions during our awards period.
It was one of nine mandated lead arrangers and bookrunners on the buyout financing for Singapore’s GLP by a consortium comprising SMG, the vehicle controlled by GLP chief executive Ming Mei, Hopu Investments, Bank of China Group Investment, Vanke and Hillhouse Capital. The $4.108bn financing to back the take-private was GlobalCapital Asia’s Best Loan and Best Leveraged/Acquisition Financing this year.
DBS also advised on the acquisition of the freight forwarding and contract logistics business of Pan Asia Logistics by TVS Asianics, the Indian arm of automotive conglomerate TVS Group. In addition, it was the financial adviser to TRF Singapore and TRF Holdings — part of India’s Tata Group — on the divestment of its entire shareholding in subsidiary York Transport Equipment (Asia).
DBS was well positioned to capitalise on deal flow from India, where it received approval from the central bank to set up a wholly-owned local subsidiary at the end of 2017. But one of the reasons it set its sights on winning more business in places such as India, Indonesia and Singapore was its shrewd reading of the Chinese and Hong Kong markets.
Bankers at DBS expected deal flow related to the Belt and Road to decline sharply this year, owing to the Chinese government’s commitment to deleveraging and restrictions around foreign investments. The bank responded by focusing more on India and Indonesia, and advising Singaporean large-cap companies to transform their M&A strategies to adapt to the changing times.
That is not to say it didn’t bag some key deals in Hong Kong and China. While DBS has 27 bankers working across G3 and local currency fixed income, equity-linked origination and sales and syndicate, around 20 of them are entirely for Greater China alone, while four bankers look at Indonesia and three on India.
DBS worked with Hong Kong-listed Dah Chong Hong Holdings when it acquired the Mercedes-Benz and Audi dealerships in Eastern China. It also played a role in Wheelock Properties’ buyout by its Hong Kong-listed parent.
Fixed income, equities strength
On the fixed income side, the bank’s credentials in the Singapore dollar bond market were unparalleled. During GlobalCapital Asia’s awards period, it ranked top among bookrunners in the currency, with credit for nearly $6bn in deals for a whopping 38.7% market share. In comparison, second place Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp had credit for around $3bn for a 20.3% share, shows Dealogic.
In the Asia ex-Japan G3 market, DBS had a strong year. It ranked within the top 15 bookrunners during the awards period, managing deals worth $6.8bn. It leveraged its relationships with local clients to run deals for high-profile names such as Singtel Group and Clifford Capital.
In the renminbi market, DBS worked on four dim sum bonds during the awards period, including for its parent DBS Group Holdings, Bank of China (Macau), ICBC (Singapore) and oil major Sinopec. During the same period last year, it worked on just one renminbi-denominated bond.
The bank set the stage this year to capture more China-related opportunities, by relocating syndicate banker Cleaven Yu from Singapore to Shanghai in July to set up a new debt capital markets origination team for China.
In the ECM world, fundraisings by real estate investment trusts have offered big deals for DBS. Its deal roster has included leading Sasseur Reit’s Singapore Exchange IPO in March, worth S$402m, and a dual-tranche equity fundraising for Frasers Logistics & Industrial Trust. The former was the first outlet mall Reit to list in Asia, while the latter deal was one of Singapore’s largest follow-on offerings this year by a Reit or a business trust.
Outside of Singapore, DBS was a lead on Medikaloka Hermina’s Indonesian listing worth around $140m.
Finally, there is the syndicated loans market, where DBS surpassed many of its peers. In Asia ex-Japan, it ranked sixth on the loan revenue league table with $37m of revenue and a 3.34% market share, according to Dealogic. It did not rank among the top 10 during the same awards period last year. In terms of volumes, it raked in credit for $9.1bn of loans for a 2.43% market share, ranking it fourth among bookrunners. This is a boost from its sixth position the previous year when it had a smaller 1.6% market share.
It knocked out these numbers while managing to have a wide geographic reach, working on loans spanning Singapore, Hong Kong, China, India, Indonesia and Taiwan.
Kudos needs to go to the bank’s experienced staff for steering the business adeptly during what was undoubtedly a difficult year. The bank’s fixed income franchise has long been helmed by Clifford Lee, managing director of treasury and markets, while senior banker Seat Moey Eng-Kwok heads up the capital markets group. Mildred Chua, meanwhile, runs the syndicated finance team from Singapore.
For showing its strength across the different asset classes, for focusing on broadening its reach beyond Singapore, and for being agile at finding opportunities outside of China during tough times, DBS is our pick for the Best Asian Investment Bank of 2018.
BEST INVESTMENT BANK
There are certain questions that need to be considered when weighing up the best investment bank in Asia. Should banks rely on China for revenues, or do they need to have strength across the region? Is being an expert in every market crucial or can banks make do with a world-class franchise in just one or two markets? Do league tables matter?
These questions often combine into one larger, more philosophical question: which approach to banking is the best? It is clear that not all banks have the same model. Although Citi and Goldman Sachs might feature on many of the same equity deals, there is a fundamental difference in their DNA. Although Credit Suisse and HSBC bankers might run into each other in the corridors of Chinese property companies, they come from drastically different institutions.
GlobalCapitalAsia takes the view that banks should largely be judged by their own criteria. Last year, the event-driven, frontier-focused flash of Credit Suisse swayed our awards panel. But the story of 2018 was volatility. Citi’s total banking model — which combines investment banking savvy with a corporate banking offering that few can rival — made it the go-to bank for Asian corporations during our topsy-turvy awards period.
Although Citi bankers will tell you their goal is to ‘be the best’ for their clients, they are also skilled at making their clients be the best for Citi. Take Ant Financial. The company, a loyal customer of Citi’s corporate bank, came to the market for a $14bn Series C equity fundraising in June. Citi was one of the six banks picked to handle the deal. But perhaps even more impressive was the bank’s role as a sell-side adviser to Pakistan’s Telenor Microfinance Bank, which sold a large stake to Ant Financial this year. Ant executives chose to go without buy-side advisors — freeing up one of their biggest relationship banks to get business from the other side.
These were just two of the outstanding deals priced during our awards period. It is worth taking a closer look at Citi’s successes across the capital markets to see why this award was so well deserved.
Its debt capital markets team had a stellar 2018, leading the way for investment grade deals, bonds from financial institutions and 144A issues. Its eye-catching roster of trades included a $7bn multi-tranche deal for Alibaba Group Holding, a $3bn additional tier one for Bank of China (Hong Kong), the first ever green sukuk from the Republic of Indonesia and a $458m project finance securitization from Clifford Capital, which swept our bond awards this year.
The bonds team rightly sees itself as a leader. Citi was the global co-ordinator on more than a third of the Asian deals it worked on during our awards period, handled billing and delivery for 45% and managed documentation for 43%. It also showed impressive strength across the region, working on everything from Indian corporate high yield to Philippine bank names.
The equity capital markets team also scored a number of successes, including one that rivalled the $14bn equity sale from Ant Financial in June. Naspers’ $10bn sale of shares in Tencent Holdings, our Best ECM Deal of 2018, was one of the largest block sales ever closed. It must also be one of the most lucrative investments of all time. The South African media company invested $32m in Tencent in 2001; by the time it came to the market its stake was worth more than $175bn.
Citi also worked on China Evergrande Group’s $2.3bn convertible bond, the $1.1bn IPO of Ping An Good Doctor, Kakao Corp’s $1bn Global Depository Share sale and Temasek Holdings’ $991m sell-down in Celltrion and Celltrion Healthcare, among many other deals.
In the loan market, it impressed GlobalCapital Asia with a $4.1bn acquisition financing for the purchase of GLP, which won our Best Loan award. It also worked on Birla Carbon’s $1.2bn dual-tranche high yield loan, Charoen Pokphand Indonesia’s $630m loan amendment and extension and Solusi Tunas Pratama’s $587m bond-buyback loan.
Citi’s loans team has a reputation for thinking on its feet. They continued that during our awards period, pulling off the largest syndicated acquisition loan in Taiwan, the largest secured aircraft term loan across Asia, a loan-bond combo with a tight deadline for Lenovo Group, a host of liability management exercises and a variety of debut loans.
Citi has a world-class team running corporate and investment banking, which was recently rebranded as banking, capital markets and advisory (BCMA), fitting with a global reorganisation. Ashu Khullar has done a stellar job in charge of Asia Pacific capital markets origination. Gerry Keefe, a former ABS banker, brings market savvy to his job running the corporate bank. Jan Metzger, a tech obsessive who cut his teeth as a Credit Suisse TMT banker, appears an excellent pick for head of BCMA in Asia.
These bankers, and their teams, work closely together. They come from a firm where deal revenues often pale in comparison to what can be made from quieter, but more consistent, corporate banking flows. In a bull market, that means Citi will miss out on some of the riskier trades that don’t make sense for a bank trying to establish long-term relationships. But in periods of volatility, those relationships become more important than ever.
Citi has spent years building a client roster that is the envy of every bank on the street. In 2018, it showed the value of that client list — bringing the most impressive deals in one of the most difficult markets in recent memory. It is a worthy winner of this award.
Don't miss out on the rest of the results of our 2018 capital markets awards, split by asset class: