Here are Australia’s and South Asia’s best banks

After months of selection, deliberation, and highly competitive pitches, The Asset unveils its Triple A Country Awards 2016 for Australia and South Asia. This year’s awardees distinguish themselves for delivering deals despite ultra-challenging markets and ever closer competition.

In Australia, UBS emerges as the Best Corporate and Institutional Bank. The Swiss bank continues to be a significant player across equity, debt, M&A and stockbroking. It is also the winner of the Best Equity House award in a year described by a senior banker as a story of two halves. The first half was slow across the board following a hectic deals activity in the previous two years, but the equity market largely turned around in the second half. UBS is a market leader in corporate block trades and executed three deals at a premium to the market during the period.

Citi is chosen as the Best Bond House, Global, with its strong franchise in both G3 and Australian dollar bond markets. It was a slow year for the Australian dollar bond market as corporates chose to access long-dated funding available in the US dollar bond market as well as locked-in historically low coupons. The ramp up in the issuance in the US dollar bond market is also underpinned by the more friendly cross-currency swap in the US market, and corporates are comfortable that they can secure their required issuance volume. Citi also wins the Best Brokerage House award, retaining the honours it secured in 2015.

Credit Suisse beats the competition for the Best M&A House as it completed 15 diverse M&A transactions, including the A$12 billion acquisition of Asciano by different investor consortia, the sale of GE Capital’s consumer finance business in Australia and New Zealand, as well as in Macquarie Group’s purchase of Esanda dealer finance portfolio from the ANZ Banking Group.

HSBC is the Australian Loan House of the year with its broad financing platform and the ability to provide syndicated, club and bilateral loans.

In terms of deals, the A$12 billion acquisition of Asciano is among the transactions that defined the Australian market in 2016 as it demonstrated the execution of a highly complex deal involving the break-up of a diversified company.

In South Asia region, India is a manifestation of a highly competitive market among the domestic players. Axis Bank is chosen as the Best Bank, Domestic, as it reported a double-digit growth in net profit, underpinned by the bank’s strategy to diversify its business mix. 

Citi wins the Best Bank, Global category as it delivered another strong financial performance in the year ended March 31 2016 and launched several innovations and initiatives across digital banking, consumer banking and cards. It also retains the Best Corporate and Institutional Bank, and the Best M&A House awards. During the review period, the bank announced 11 transactions in both buyside and sellside, and three of the transactions have value greater than US$1 billion.

JM Financial continues to punch above its weight as it again demonstrated the strength of its franchise across capital markets and M&A, executing transactions for global private equity firms – a theme that really emerged in 2016 in India. It closed eight equity capital markets deals, mostly IPOs and QIPs, raising about US$1.8 billion for clients.

The Best Equity House award goes to Kotak Investment Banking as it emerges a leader in the IPO market, which is heading for a record breaking year in 2016. It is also involved in structuring and executing India’s first QIP of stapled non-convertible debentures with warrants. Kotak Securities, meanwhile, wins the Best Brokerage House award with its comprehensive platform to provide a suite of brokerage, research and distribution services to both institutional and non-institutional clients. 

The Best Bond House awards are shared between HSBC, for global banks and ICICI Bank for domestic banks. HSBC is involved in several key thematic transactions in 2016, arranging Masala bonds, green bonds and deals that re-opened the Indian high yield bond market. It was also able to bring foreign issuers into the rupee bond market, including the Province of British Columbia, which printed in September 2016 the first ever Masala bond from a sovereign and quasi-sovereign issuer.

ICICI Bank may ranked just number 2 in the league table, but it has illustrated its capability to structure innovative transactions that basically created markets for new issuers and achieved fast execution for large transactions with the ability to reach wider investor base.

SBI Capital Markets continues to flex its muscle as a loan house especially relating to infrastructure-related transactions. While its deals are mostly denominated in rupees, it also has the capability to arrange transactions in US dollar as well.

In Pakistan, which has re-emerged in investors’ radar, Standard Chartered wins the accolades for Best Bank, Global. The bank continues to deliver resilient financial performance in the first nine months of 2016 despite margin compression due to lower interest rate. There is a positive momentum in the advances across all business segments with a strategy to build profitable, efficient and sustainable portfolio.

The Best Corporate and Institutional Bank award, Global, goes to Credit Suisse, while the domestic citation goes to Allied Bank. Credit Suisse continues to execute transactions that have material impact on the development of Pakistan’s capital markets, such as in equity capital market and structured finance, while Allied Bank is a strong local player in both the equity and loan markets. It arranged a total of US$2.3 billion worth of loans for different companies, ranging from telecommunications and microfinance as it also secures the Best Loan House award’s honours.

Arif Habib wins the Best Equity House accolade, arranging key deals that raised over US$300 million for its clients, while Elixir Securities is chosen as the Best Brokerage house. Demonstrating its unique ability to understand the complexities of the Pakistani market, Elixir has embarked on an expansion in its home market to extend its product offering and is now looking to expand into two markets – China and the Middle East.

In terms of deals, the US$185 million block placement for Engro Fertilizers stood out for Pakistan in 2016 for being the largest ever non-government equity block placement in the country. 

In Sri Lanka, the US$700 million amortizing term loan facility with an option to be upsized via an accordion feature wins the Best Syndicated Loan award in 2016. This is the largest ever syndicated loan completed by the government of Sri Lanka.

To view the best house awardees of The Asset Triple A Awards 2016 – Australia and South Asia, please click here.

To view the best deal awardees of The Asset Triple A Awards 2016 – Australia and South Asia, please click here.