Which advisers stand out in tough market conditions
With uncertainty pervasive, The Asset selects which are the best banks and advisers in South Asia and what deals stand out
In a year that was defined by market volatility, 2018 was challenging for both issuers/borrowers and investors alike, with uncertainties driven mainly by the Sino-US trade war and the tightening undertaken by the US Federal Reserve.
The board of editors at The Asset, during the evaluation process for The Triple A Country Awards 2018, heard from various market participants how the double whammy of rising interest rates and trade war tensions have made it difficult for issuers/borrowers to navigate the debt capital markets during the year. They are now forced to pay elevated new issue premiums to access the market to raise funds – or, alternatively, face waiting on the sidelines for an opportune issuance window.
Even the world's largest bank in terms of assets, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, was not spared by such headwinds as it pulled a dual-tranche US dollar bond deal in November.
Following two years of record-breaking issuance, Refinitiv figures showed the G3 bond market in Asia (ex-Japan and Australia) was lagging in 2018, with the volume as at November 15 down 16% from a year ago to US$240.34 billion. The high-yield bond market was significantly impacted, with the volume plummeting 35% to US$29.92 billion during the same period, although this figure was not bad as it looked as it was still the second biggest issuance volume during the past decade.
Some issuers were shifting to the private placement market to alleviate their financing requirements, or returning to the loan market, which remained open despite the volatile environment. The local currency bond markets also found favour among the issuers/borrowers as a funding avenue even as bond yields were higher in many economies within emerging East Asia due to the US rate hikes.
The activity in the IPO market in Asia (ex-Japan and Australia), on the other hand, picked up slightly this year, with the companies raising US$76.11 billion as at November 30 2018, up from US$75.79 billion during the comparable period a year ago, according to Refinitiv. But investors drew the short straw as the stock prices of several of these companies are trading below their offer prices.
Over in South Asia, the IPO market in India saw a big drop in volume to US$4.65 billion as at November 30 2018, from over US$10.88 billion in the same period a year ago, according to Refinitiv. The market, though, saw listings from a wide range of sectors this year, including agri-business, apparel, auto, financial institution, asset management and healthcare.
Citi emerged as the big winner in India, taking the awards in the global category for both Best Bank and Best Corporate and Institutional Bank, as well as Best Loan Adviser. Citi delivered another strong performance across investment banking, advisory and transaction services, consumer banking, private banking and wealth management. As a full-service bank, it has a strong presence and executed marquee deals across equity, foreign and local currency debt capital raising, loan financing, and mergers and acquisition.
Kotak Mahindra Bank was selected as the Best Bank – domestic, retaining the honours it won last year. Axis Capital took the accolades for Best Corporate and Institutional Bank – domestic and Best Equity Adviser on the back of arranging several market-defining deals, including IPOs, qualified institutional placements, offer for sale and rights issues. It was also active in the M&A space and was involved in private equity-driven transactions.
The Best Bond Adviser honours went to Standard Chartered in the global category, while Trust Investment Advisors was the winner in the domestic category. Standard Chartered manifested leadership in bringing repeat and inaugural issuers into the market. Its landmark transactions include the US$1.3 billion dual-tranche offering for Tata Steel-backed ABJA Investment Company. Voted as the Best High Yield Bond in India, the transaction represented the first foreign currency bond issuance in this market backed by a letter of comfort.
JM Financial was voted as the Best M&A Adviser, executing deals for the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management to push the government objective of creating an "oil major" in India, and also represented Tata Chemicals, Adani Enterprise, Timken India and Reliance Jio Infocomm.
Kotak Securities was a repeat winner as it retained the Best Brokerage Award. It introduced several initiatives to enhance its products and services/solutions to better serve its clients.
In Pakistan, Credit Suisse was voted as the Best Corporate and Institutional Bank - global, as it continued to execute and successfully close deals that have material impact in the country's business landscape amid a challenging economic environment. It was the sole global coordinator in the US$50 million block trade for Oil and Gas Development Company in April 2018 – the first deal of its kind by an institutional vendor in Pakistan.
Credit Suisse was also a lead adviser, and joint mandated lead arranger and bookrunner in the US$565 million, 12-month syndicated term loan facility for Pakistan's Ministry of Finance.
Allied Bank was once again voted as Best Loan Adviser for leading the execution of deals for such corporates as Power Holding, Engro Powergen Qadirpur and Askari Cement. It was the sole mandated lead arranger in the 4 billion Pakistani rupee financing for National Rural Support Programme, which helped enhance the availability of funds to small farmers and businesses, thus improving the standard of living of the rural population.
Elixir Securities was the winner of the Best Brokerage Award, leveraging on its transaction execution capabilities. It has embarked on an expansion to broaden its product offering to include asset management and private equity, real estate advisory, and insurance and re-insurance solutions to its client base.
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4 Dec 2018