First IPO for a Chinese company in New York? Check. First bank capital bond for an Asian bank? Double check. Being able to throw the word “first” into an announcement is always eye catching, and proves to be a wonderful selling point when you’re talking up your deal and bragging to colleagues, journalists or to Tai Tai about just how skilled a banker you are.
Fortunately, I came of age in a time when firsts were easy enough to find in Asia. Back then, the Asian market was just opening up, providing me ample opportunity to stamp my name on historic firsts. But today’s bankers are less lucky.
It’s become apparent to me recently that these young chaps are desperate to prove that they’re the first in anything possible. Sadly, that means digging deep for any reason to call a deal a “landmark”.
The other day, I stumbled across a news story about “the world’s first mini-hydro sukuk”. While sukuk, or Islamic financing, has been used to finance hydro projects in the past, it apparently has never been used to finance a “mini” project. I’ll let you know when I figure out what the parameters of that are!
I know it’s hard to swallow being second in timing, size, structure or what-have-you, but I think highlighting “mini” projects may be a sign that things need to change. What’s next? The world’s first micro-green dollar bond sold in the month of August? I shudder at the thought.