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Asia CommentTaipan

IPO bankers love to horse around

The last few weeks have been rough on my pals in the equity capital markets. Business has been booming, but equally competition has risen to a fever pitch.

Friends have regaled me with tales of nights spent poring over lengthy pitch decks before they can peel themselves away from their desks for a tipple or two.

An old hand in the business myself, I was slightly amused to hear of how banks had been clawing each other’s eyes out by offering to charge next to nothing to be sponsors on a couple of jumbo state-driven Chinese IPOs in Hong Kong.

But while banks like to do all sorts of outrageous things to win mandates, once in a while they have a bit of fun with it too.

For instance, with a US IPO of a Chinese company last year, one bank apparently designed and wore team t-shirts to the pitch meeting in an effort to stand out from the crowd.

This year, the prize is winning a spot on the Zhong An Online Property and Casualty Insurance deal.

I read in this esteemed newspaper that Zhong An plans to file a listing application for a $1bn IPO soon. It’s common knowledge that Zhong An was founded by Alibaba’s Jack Ma, Tencent’s Pony Ma and Ping An Insurance’s Ma Mingzhe.

So bankers have taken to nicknaming the project “The Three Horses” as “ma” translates to “horse” in Chinese.

Talk about horsing around. We had a good laugh about this over drinks, but secretly I wondered: what nicknames do clients give to us bankers? 

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