BEST ASIAN INVESTMENT BANK
BEST LOCAL CURRENCY BOND HOUSE
There are a few ways to decide the award for best Asian investment bank. Should it recognise an Asian bank that is strong in its home market but has made great strides in expanding its regional offering? Or should it reward a house that has put most of its focus on growing in its country?
This year, GlobalCapital Asia decided to award a bank for the latter. Malaysian bank CIMB stands out for having a well-rounded franchise across equity capital markets, debt capital markets, M&A and advisory services in Malaysia, making it our pick for the Best Asian Investment Bank of the year.
The numbers tell one side of the story. Among Malaysia ECM bookrunners during the awards period, CIMB ranked top with credit for $945.38m and a 29% market share, according to Dealogic, well ahead of second place JP Morgan that had a 17.66% share of the market. In comparison, during the same time last year, CIMB ranked lower with just an 8.41% market share.
CIMB’s roster of clients has been impressive this year. On ECM, it worked as a joint bookrunner with the Abu Dhabi Sovereign Wealth Fund to help it sell some of its shares in a local Malaysian bank. CIMB has executed three block trades for the fund. In addition, it also helped Khazanah Nasional trim its position in CIMB Group Holdings and an international fund manager to bring its stake in IHH Healthcare down, as well as working with Felda on a block trade in Maybank. It led both the IHH and Maybank deals as a sole bookrunner.
It also dominated the Malaysian ringgit bond market, ranking second during the awards period, behind Maybank, with a 27.6% market share. Its performance was, in fact, enough to make it GlobalCapital Asia’s winner of the Best Local Currency Bond house of 2019.
Innovation was key for the firm. It was the sole principal adviser and sole lead arranger on IJM Land’s MR650m perpetual sukuk, for example. This was the first ringgit-denominated perpetual sukuk credit enhanced by a corporate guarantee. Structuring was complicated, given the perpetual and Islamic nature of the transaction, but CIMB managed to price the deal attractively, and distributed it widely to both institutional and high net worth investors.
Its other perpetual mandates this year included Tropicana Corp and YNH Property.
CIMB was also the sole principal adviser and sole lead arranger on Digi Telecommunications’ tightly-priced MR900m sukuk murabahah. And in the case of a MR1.5bn Islamic medium term note sale by Danum Capital, with Khazanah as the obligor, CIMB was a lead manager and bookrunner. These deals were in line with CIMB’s goal of making Malaysia a sukuk hub.
On the bank capital front, it led its own parent’s Basel III-compliant additional tier one deal, which saw CIMB Group Holdings bag MR1bn, while it helped CIMB Thai Bank raise MR550m from a tier two subordinated bond. It was also a bookrunner on Affin Bank’s AT1 deal last year.
Outside of ringgit, CIMB worked on plenty of Indonesian rupiah and Thai baht denominated bonds during the awards period. The largest of them all was a March multi-tranche Bt53bn ($1.7bn) issuance for Thai Beverage. CIMB Thai Bank, owned 94.8% by CIMB, was one of the bookrunners on that transaction. Other baht bonds executed by CIMB were for telecommunications firms True Corp and True Move H Universal Communications Co.
In the Indonesian rupiah market, CIMB was involved in a range of sub $100m-equivalent bonds, as well as working as one of five bookrunners for a $177m-equivalent dual-tranche deal for Sarana Multigraya Finansial. The deal was executed through CGS-CIMB Sekuritas Indonesia. CGS-CIMB Securities is a joint venture between China Galaxy International Financial Holdings and CIMB Group.
So strong is its franchise that CIMB Group ranked fourth in the Asia ex-Japan local currency (excluding CNY) bookrunners league table by volume during the awards period. It boosted its market share to 4.23%, from a 3.41% share and sixth place during the same time in 2018, shows Dealogic. The top three spots went to Korean houses, while rival Maybank came in sixth.
Bankers at CIMB insist they don’t use their balance sheet strength for deals, but get mandated by clients for their structuring capabilities.
CIMB has consistently been the bank of choice when it comes to Malaysian clients seeking ringgit deals in the domestic market. It has also proven its strength in the rupiah and baht markets. But additionally, it has helped run international deals for many of Malaysia’s, and southeast Asia’s, biggest names.
Nowhere was this more evident than in the international debt capital market. Standout deals included a rare project finance bond from Indonesia for Lestari Banren Energi, worth $775m, and a jumbo $4bn issuance from Indonesia Asahan Aluminium at the end of last year.
In the ECM market outside of Malaysia, CIMB was one of the bookrunners on S Hotels & Resorts’ Bt7.5bn IPO in Bangkok, while through CGS-CIMB, it helped Chinese property company Aoyuan Healthy Life Group raise around $82m from a Hong Kong listing.
It has also made ESG and green financing a core part of its operations. In September this year, CIMB printed a $680m bond in Taiwan’s Formosa market, which was linked to the Sustainable and Development Goals. That was the first SGD bond to be issued by an Asean credit in the Reg S international and Formosa capital markets.
CIMB has a solid footprint in Malaysia and a meaningful investment banking business in the rest of Asean. Whether it will aim bigger and diversify more into the already crowded markets of North Asia is an open question. But for adding value to its regional client base, CIMB deserves credit.
BEST INVESTMENT BANK
Citi’s critics have long accused its investment bank of being a ‘factory’, churning out a steady supply of easy-to-execute transactions that require little intellectual capital. That has always been a gross simplification. But in 2019, it betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the US bank’s business.
Citi scored some notable successes during our awards period, including a $678.5m project finance bond for AES-VCM Mong Duong Power Company, Axis Bank’s Rp125bn qualified institutional placement and Anta Sports’ dual-tranche €2.2bn acquisition loan, all of which scooped deal awards from GlobalCapital Asia this year. It also won a crucial mandate on Alibaba Group Holding’s HK$88bn secondary listing in Hong Kong, a deal which launched before our awards period but priced just after the deadline.
It is true that Citi can boast more deals than most other banks, no doubt something which motivates that ‘factory’ line from envious rivals. The bank’s debt syndicate team, led by Rishi Jalan and Eeswary Krishnan, was busy throughout the year, working on 154 G3 deals in Asia ex-Japan during our awards period, worth $19.47bn, according to Dealogic data. That compares to 136 deals the year before, albeit giving a slightly higher $20.4bn of league table credit.
Adrian Khoo and Amit Sheopuri, co-heads of Asia debt origination, ensured the bank was able to boast mandates across Asia this year, holding either the number one or two spot on the league tables in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. Citi was also one of the top banks in the green and sustainable bond market, in liability management and in bank capital.
Citi’s equity team also had a stellar year, winning league table credit for $6.69bn of deals across Asia ex-Japan and working on more deals than any other non-Chinese bank. Its highlight reel included acting as a sponsor on Hansoh Pharmaceutical’s $1.153bn IPO, a joint bookrunner on Budweiser Brewing Apac Co’s $5.749bn Hong Kong listing and global co-ordinator on a $675m convertible bond for Lenovo. There was also, of course, that mammoth, hard-won mandate on Alibaba’s long-awaited return to the Hong Kong stock exchange.
The bank now has one of the strongest ECM benches on the street. The hire of Goldman Sachs’ Udhay Furtado, who became Citi’s head of Asia ex-Greater China ECM in the middle of 2018, was a clear coup but Bruce Wu and Kenneth Chow, co-heads of Greater China ECM, have also ensured a steady supply of chunky deals. In November, Citi named Furtado and Chow as co-heads of Asia ECM.
Citi’s loans business, run by the well-respected Benjamin Ng, has always prospered from a smart approach to structuring and distributing risk, getting revenues from deals far away from the plain vanilla flow that makes up the vast majority of many of its rivals’ loan businesses. That continued this year, with impressive deals including Amer Sports’ acquisition financing and the HK$25.2bn facility for the privatisation of Hopewell Holdings.
But Citi won this award due to more than strong league table showings and eye-catching mandates. There was plenty of competition across all asset classes this year and many banks had glittering numbers to show. Citi’s Asia Pacific banking and capital market advisory business, run by Jan Metzger, stood out due to its stark transformation over the last few years, turning what was once considered a decent offshoot of a powerful corporate and commercial bank into a world-class division in its own right.
Citi bankers are energised like never before, taking a creative, multimedia approach to pitching that forces them to understand their clients – or potential clients – much more deeply than they used to.
Corporate bankers who once thought they were not meant to be part of the pitching process are being brought into the fold. Citi bankers used to lugging around pitch books and reeling off numbers are being asked to think like company founders, encouraged by Metzger — and corporate bank head Gerry Keefe — to devise ways of pitching that will win the hearts of Asia’s CEOs. That doesn’t mean Citi’s bankers are not forced to know their numbers as well as anyone. But it does mean their chances of turning one deal into a long-term relationship increase exponentially.
This is clearly a burden, requiring many of the firm’s most senior bankers to work every Saturday on select pitches. But it is paying off. Citi’s new connected approach to investment banking has helped it win new client relationships and improve old ones. It has also made the bank a major player in Asian investment banking.