2002 Country Awards - Best Foreign Bank and Best Foreign Investment Bank

In the second of our two part country awards we present the Best Foreign Banks and Best Foreign Investment Banks.


Best Foreign Bank - Citibank

With four large domestic banks holding a 70% share of the corporate banking market, Australia has been a tough nut to crack for foreign firms. But with sheer determination and the backing of an almighty global balance sheet, Citibank has carved itself a handsome niche in the local market.

Now the largest international bank in Australia it has over $10 billion in assets in the country and 1700 employees to service just over a million retail customers and 400 corporate customers. It has offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide. Independent analysis of Citibank's share of the corporate banking sector has it controlling 11.9% of the market with a significant share of transaction banking business for media and telco companies.

The backing of the Citigroup balance sheet gives it a lot of lending clout, allowing it to provide bilateral loans, acquisition finance and syndicated loans. Its grip on the syndication market is particularly notable. Since January this year it has arranged A$2.59 billion in syndicated loans and A$1.95 billion in securitizations.

Notable deals from 2001 include the Texas Utilities Australia Holdings (TXU) A$2.09 billion syndication, and a A$2.1 billion syndication for Qantas where Citibank was joint lead arranger. Other recent transactions include a $2.5 billion syndication for BHP Billiton.

In the transactional banking space, Citibank has had a few firsts in cash management and foreign exchange. Coca Cola Amatil Australia recently became the first global customer of Citibank's electronic bill presentment payment system, Citibank e-Billing B2B. And in March this year the bank launched a foreign exchange fixing index that each morning sets a spot and forward foreign exchange reference and dealing mechanism for Australia and New Zealand covering all major currencies.

Best Foreign Investment Bank - UBS Warburg

League tables look impressive when your name is on the top, but UBS Warburg's Australian team would be better off publicizing pie charts. Because not only does the firm's name appear first on the list of most investment banking league tables, but it beats its competitors by a mile on deal volume and size. By its own reckoning and that of Thomson Financial, UBS Warburg completed 45 equity capital raisings worth a total of A$8.9 billion between July last year and May this year - A$2.3 billion more than its nearest competitor Macquarie which completed 26 deals.

Thomson also puts the firm on the top of M&A league tables for the calendar year 2001 with 58 deals worth a total of $34.3 billion compared to number two on the list, JPMorgan, with 25 deals at A$29.4 billion in value. Investors and CFOs are particularly impressed by the breadth and depth of the corporate advisory team run by Chris Mackay.

Last year, Mackay and crew acted as sole takeover defence advisor to Howard Smith in the A$2.9 billion unsolicited takeover by Wesfarmers. They were also sole advisors to BHP in its merger with Billiton, which created a combined group with an enterprise value of A$75 billion.

Chairman and joint chief executive officer of the Australian operation, Gordon Dickinson, puts the firm's successes down to divisions within the bank working together. He says that in order to complete such large transactions, many of which ran concurrently last year, all elements of the bank need to cooperate to structure and raise sufficient capital. For these reasons and many more, UBS Warburg is FinanceAsia's best foreign investment bank in Australia for 2002.


Best Foreign Bank - HSBC

In this most competitive of sectors, two global giants stand out, HSBC and Citibank. Although both companies are similarly restricted by the numerous restrictions imposed by the mainland leadership, HSBC pips Citigroup at the post.

HSBC's commitment to the China market is unparalleled, and not only for the opening of its Shanghai office as far back as 1865. HSBC still gains much of its kudos as an emerging markets bank and in that capacity it has made its expertise felt in China - not just with regard to trade related services, where it is the undisputed king, but increasingly in terms of treasury, capital markets, custody and cash management - part of the range of services that companies now selling into China increasingly need.

HSBC's success in gaining and providing excellence in the full range of these sectors, together with the widest branch network in China, is what wins the award. Five testimonials from blue chips bear witness to HSBC supplying the most sophisticated one-stop shopping available under existing regulations in China.

As one top company CEO puts it: "HSBC, like other foreign banks, may not yet provide all banking services we could benefit from due to the banking restrictions in China, but they have always been keen to understand our needs, developing ad hoc products and services and challenging the boundaries of what can be done in China in the banking areas and beyond to help our business."

HSBC has also been at the forefront of pushing the envelope with China's regulators, and this is borne out with a number of firsts, including: the first foreign bank to provide foreign currency services to mainland citizens in Beijing and the first bank to set up a Rmb payment alliance with the Big Four state commercial banks.

In addition, HSBC is the only foreign bank to have participated in China Mobile's Rmb12 billion syndicated loan, as well as the only foreign participant in the Rmb government bond and repo market, as well as the only foreign bank to offer full custody and clearing services. HSBC is also making a big push into consumer banking and is the only foreign bank capable of providing a clearing service for all the major international credit cards.

Best Foreign Investment Bank - Morgan Stanley

Few would disagree that the China markets have not been as active as many would have liked over the past 12 months. But when we analysed what deals had been closed, and which deals have been mandated, our choice once again this year was Morgan Stanley.

Two of the most high profile transactions to emit from China in the past year both involved Morgan Stanley. The first was obviously the $487 million IPO for Aluminum Corporation of China (Chalco), a deal that took advantage of a return to favour of old economy stocks and priced at a 22% premium to the company's own net asset value.

The second was Morgan Stanley M&A advice to one of China's premier private sector companies, Huawei which sold its subsidiary Avansys Power to Emerson of the US for $750 million. This remains one of the most exciting pieces of M&A to come out of China and was recognized by FinanceAsia as the M&A deal of the year for 2001.

Morgan Stanley also recently won China's first ever international auction of non-performing loans for Huarong Asset Management Company and founded the first JV with Huarong to manage NPL disposals.

Morgan Stanley also has a healthy pipeline. It has the mandate to execute the IPO of China Telecom and Guangdong Gridco, with the latter being particularly significant given the massive changes underway in the Chinese power sector.

Hong Kong

Best Foreign Bank - Citibank

There is very little argument on this point. Citibank is the best foreign bank in Hong Kong by quite a margin. Its financial results reflect this. In 2001 it grew its profits by 23.5% even though the local GDP only increased by 0.3%. In the first quarter of 2002, profits grew by 10%. All this equates to an astounding return on equity of 63%.

Citibank has now been in Hong Kong for 100 years and is fully embedded. It is a full service corporate and consumer bank and offers treasury and cash management services which are as innovative as they are competitive.

A client testimonial that Citi provided said it wished to praise the bank for the following reasons: "The high standard of Citibank services has been consistent throughout the 30 years of our group's dealings with Citibank. Citibank has always been client-oriented and innovative. And we are very much impressed by the demonstration of local market knowledge and the technical capability of Citibank in the structuring of complicated transactions and financing."

Best International Investment Bank - HSBC

With so many investment banks basing their Asian operations in Hong Kong, we took the view that it was not helpful to have a  foreign investment bank' category in the SAR, and chose instead to use the term  international'.

Semantics aside, the choice was not straightforward. However, we feel we can make the following point with a comfortable degree of certainty: no firm makes as much profit from investment banking in Hong Kong as HSBC.

Its business is, however, skewed towards the debt markets and related swaps and derivatives products. In the first quarter of the year alone it did 78 deals worth HK$17.9 billion in the local Hong Kong dollar bond market. Indeed it has been the number one bookrunner in Hong Kong dollars for nine consecutive years.

In US dollars it launched bonds for Jardine Strategic ($300 million), China Light & Power ($300 million) and Citic Ka Wah ($250 million). The latter was also non-Japan Asia's first upper tier two debt issue with a perpetual structure.

HSBC is also maintaining a presence in equity markets which have been highly subdued. In May, for example, it was sole arranger of a HK$759 million equity placement for the Hong Kong subsidiary of ICBC, and was also the sole arranger of the top-up placing for TPV Technology, a maker of computer monitors. It has also made a concerted push in the advisory business where it clients have included the MTR.


Best Foreign Bank - HSBC

HSBC grew its attributable profits in India by 65% last year, a reflection of the way it is growing its business. With 31 branches in 14 cities, the bank sees India as one of its core markets in the world and has made the appropriate investments as a result.

It acquired Deutsche Bank's retail banking business last year and acquired a home loan portfolio from Weizmann Homes. Its push into retail banking saw credit card growth of 51%, and 33% growth in bank customer accounts. Moreover it grew its assets by 39%.

Its commitment to the country is very plain. It has established two back office processing centres in Hyderabad with a third on the verge of opening in Bangalore. It also established a software development centre in Pune.

It is the largest custodian to foreign institutional investors, has over 1200 cash management mandates and in 2001 it handled 7% of India's annual trade of $90 billion through its trade services department .

In the words of one of the five requested client testimonials we were sent: "We have been dealing with HSBC since 1991. The relationship has grown from a basic lending to treasury, cash management and trade services. In particular, we have found HSBC"s cash management services very useful. The quality of the management information systems and the reduced collection cycles has benefited the company immensely through reduced costs and updated financial information. Additionally, the efficiency of operations in trade services and the host of treasury products (with fine pricing) have been very useful to the company."

Best Foreign Investment Bank - JPMorgan

JPMorgan's history in India dates back to 1955, when it was a founding shareholder of ICICI. Now that it has combined with the old Chase Manhattan balance sheet and the Jardine Fleming franchise, it has never been stronger.

A good example of this is the advisory work it did for one of India's biggest companies, ONGC Videsh, which bought 20% of the Sakhalin-1 oilfield in Russia. This $1.7 billion acquisition was the largest ever overseas acquisition by an Indian corporate, and closed last July.

JPMorgan was also the advisor to British Telecom on the sale of its investment in Bharti, and to China Light & Power on its acquisition of Powergen's Indian assets.

It also advised Tata Finance on the sale of its 30% stake in its home finance subsidiary (sold to Abbey National), as well as advising Air India on its sale of the Juhu Centaur Hotel and Hotel Centaur Rajgir.

It is evident that JPMorgan is a trusted adviser to the government, dating back to its initial involvement on the BALCO sale - where it provided the government with a template for future deals by creating documentation that dealt with issues such as indemnity and environmental liability.

It is mandated as one of the bookrunners on the forthcoming sale of aluminium company, NALCO, which demonstrates that its relationship with the government continues to be strong.


Best Foreign Bank - HSBC

It has been another excellent year for HSBC in Indonesia. The bank stayed firm through the worst of the crisis, and now, like Indonesia, looks to be on a growth path again. In the last financial year it increased its total assets by 28% to Rp14 trillion ($1.57 billion) and increased its total operating profit by 31%. It also added five new branches in 2001, meaning its branch numbers have almost doubled since the end of 1996.

The bank granted client facilities of over $1 billion, a growth rate of more than 50%, and concluded over $180 million of Indonesian derivatives transactions.

The basis of HSBC's business in Indonesia was always trade, and it has a 13% market share in advising on DCs, according to SWIFT data. It also secured over 100 new cash management clients and established a new alliance with Lippo Bank and Bank Niaga to offer comprehensive payments and collections services throughout Indonesia. In custody, it is the clear market leader, with 50% of total invested assets under custody.

On the consumer side it has seen rapid growth too. It grew its personal banking customer base by 130% and increased its credit card base by 165% to 185,000 card holders. It even keeps its branches open seven days a week (possibly an idea that could be exported back to Hong Kong).

Satisfied customers provided their support to HSBC's pitch once again this year. As one put it: "HSBC Indonesia has been there to advise us on hedging solutions. We want to focus on our core business, that's why HSBC's treasury was instrumental as our partner in risk management. They took the time to make sure that we understood the risk posed by the volatility of the market. They constructed tailor-made products (ie derivatives) to fit our needs in each project."

Moreover, as part of its commitment to Indonesia Inc, one cannot forget that HSBC was instrumental in re-opening the international debt markets to the country via its $125 million sole-led eurobond for Bank Mandiri.

Best Foreign Investment Bank - CSFB

CSFB is a force to be reckoned with in the Indonesian financial scene and has a balanced portfolio of work for government and private sector entities. It has completed M&A, equity and debt deals for Indonesian clients in the past 12 months.

In March it launched a $100 million bond for PT Medco Energi, which was the first corporate bond out of Indonesia since 1997. It then led the largest international bond offering out of Indonesia since the financial crisis, a $280 million issue for Indofood.

On the equity front it has sold 8.1% of the government's stake in Indosat, raising $110 million, and continues to hold the role of global coordinator for the eagerly anticipated IPO of Bank Mandiri.

On the M&A front it acted as an advisor to PT Medco on its 34% sale to Thailand's PTTEP, a deal worth $225 million. It also acted as adviser to Devon Energy on the sale of its Indonesian oil and gas operations to PetroChina.

The firm included several testimonials from Indonesia's bluest chip companies one of which said: "CSFB realizes the importance of building relationships with its top tier clients. The coverage team in Jakarta, in particular chief representative Helman Sitohang, is always a pleasure to work with."


Best Foreign Bank - Citibank

Citibank is unrivalled among foreign banks in Japan for the sheer breadth of its offerings on both the corporate and consumer front. So embedded has the bank become that local banks often consider it within their competitive peer group.

Thanks to links with the Post Office, Citi has managed to combine it skills in cash management and consumer banking with the Post Office's vast network of over 20,000 branches. Top local companies have increasingly defected from local banks and switched to Citi, since it offers much more sophisticated products and superior technology.

It has relationships with the 180 top Japanese corporates. And on the consumer side, it saw its account numbers grow 40%, for example, in 2001.

There is much that could be said for Citi's excellence in Japan. But it is worth concluding that when Ripplewood set about building a good Japanese bank out of LTCB it hired Citibank personnel past and present to do the job at the newly named Shinsei. The results being generated at Shinsei show that Citibank's impact on the Japanese system goes way beyond its own bottom line and is making a positive contribution to revolutionizing banking in the country.

Best Foreign Investment Bank - Nikko Salomon Smith Barney

Whether Nikko Salomon Smith Barney is a local or foreign investment bank is a subject of debate, and this probably lies at the heart of the firm's profound success.

We have taken the decision that it is  foreign'. Our view is based on the fact that it is considered to be so in Japan and comes under the foreign securities firm law. In addition, Citigroup has more than 50% of the entity if you consider that it owns 49% directly, and also owns 20% of Nikko Cordial, which in turn owns 51%.

The firm has 1500 staff in Tokyo and is the only firm that combines a truly global distribution with a local retail network of 120 branches.

Successes in the past year have included its highly successful J-REIT for Japan Real Estate Investment Corporation which raised Y84 billion. It also led the two biggest euroyen issues ever with a Y250 billion convertible bond for Fujitsu and Y150 billion convertible for Mitsubishi Corporation.

On the M&A side it advised Saison Group on the sale of its stake in Saison Life to GE Edison Life; and advised Hitachi on the sale of its CPT operations in the US to Thomson Multimedia. The size of these deals was not disclosed but more sizeable transactions where there has been disclosure include the $2.8 billion holding company created by Tokio Marine and Nichido Fire and Marine (where it advised Tokio Marine); and as advisor to Lucent on the $2.5 billion sale of its fiber optic division to Furukawa Electric.


Best Foreign Bank - Citibank

Put simply, Citibank is the number one foreign bank in Korea by assets, revenues, staff, customer base and branch network. Last year it increased its revenues by 12%.

Highlights on the corporate banking side included a $596 million aircraft financing for Korean Air, a $150 million senior unsecured FRN for LG Caltex, and a $300 million asset backed conduit securitization deal for Samsung Capital. It is also becoming more active in local won bond market.

Along with HSBC, Citibank has identified Korea as a core market for growth - and has put a particular emphasis on the consumer banking side. That said, and given that a new round of bank consolidation is imminent, it will be interesting to see what, if any role, Citibank plays.

Best Foreign Investment Bank - CSFB

Once again, CSFB has had an excellent year in Korea and retains its hold on this award - although the competition was probably stiffer than in any other market.

CSFB got off to a good start in July 2001 when it launched a $278 million securitization for Korea Deposit Insurance Corp. This was the first international securitization of domestic lease receivables from Korea. In November it then launched the first cross-border CBO offering out of Korea for Korea Technology Credit Guarantee fund, which was a $250 million deal. At the end of 2001 it then brought LG Card to market with a $500 million issue. This was the largest asset-backed security from non-Japan Asia.

Its lead in Korean debt products was made clear with its issues for Kia Motors ($200 million), and LG Caltex ($300 million), which were both issued in July. In 2002 it re-opened a $300 million bond for KDB, which was the first deal to hit the international bond markets after Korea's two notch upgrade by Moody's.

In equity capital markets, it launched the highly successful $553 million combined offering of GDRs and convertible bonds for Korea Tobacco & Ginseng - the first ever combined equity and equity-linked deal to come from Korea. It was also mandated to lead Chohung's offering and is executing the $1.5 billion ADR and exchangeable for SK Corp.

On the M&A side, it announced seven transactions and these included the sale of Hyundai Merchant Marine's terminal assets, and Kumho Industrial's sale of its tyre business to the Carlyle Group. Most innovatively of all it helped LG Industrial Systems sell its 11.9% stake in LG Capital through an innovative SPV. This private placement allowed it to liquidate its stake in a way that didn't contravene Korean IPO regulations and thus delay the IPO by 12 months. This structure was executed in only three weeks.

Top Korean companies wrote testimonials explaining why CSFB was their preferred bank. One detailed letter ran to two pages and eight paragraphs and ended: "CSFB is considered by most of the financial community in Seoul as having the highest commitment to Korea. CSFB has demonstrated a track record of success and it all starts with the core working team in Seoul, which is comprised of solid professionals who combine excellent client marketing skills with superior product and market knowledge."


Best Foreign Bank - HSBC

In the last financial year, HSBC with its 36 branches made $127 million of pre-tax profit, which equates to a return on equity of 29.43%. Compare that with RHB Bank, one of Malaysia's biggest local banks, which made $123 million with five times the branches (185).

HSBC has ramped up all of its businesses in Malaysia. Its consumer banking operation saw stellar growth, doubling in size in 2001, with $1 billion in new mortgages sold. It also purchased ABN AMRO's mortgage book.

On the corporate side it has been an active player in the local bond market, financed trade in excess of M$3 billion ($790 million) and has garnered 1,600 electronic banking customers.

HSBC was a joint arranger for the Government of Malaysia's $540 million syndicated loan in December and most recently it has broken new ground via its $600 million Islamic issue for the Federation of Malaysia - the first global Islamic issue ever.

HSBC included five excellent testimonials from top Malaysian clients, many of which drilled down to particular products that had helped the client. On a more general level one client made the important point: "HSBC Bank Malaysia has been our preferred bank for so many years not just by being a bank but by being a partner in our operation."

Best Foreign Investment Bank - Deutsche Bank

There are a lot of fickle investment banks and this attitude was at its most prevalent after the Asian financial crisis when many abandoned even the pretence of a commitment to Malaysia.

Deutsche was not one of those houses and went about building an investment banking business from the ground-up. It is now a top three player in the local ringgit bond market and is one of the largest onshore swaps liquidity providers.

In August it led the M$2 billion SILK facility, a 20-year structure to build infrastructure. In December it worked for Danaharta by leading Malaysia's first collateralized loan obligation via the M$310 million Securita ABS.

This year it has led a repeat mandate from Encorp Systembilt, and brought Pembangunan Leasing Corporation to the local bond market. It also led a $135 million transferable loan facility for the Sarawak Economic Development Corporation.

On the international front it helped to lead MayBank's $380 million sub-debt issue.

Its corporate finance efforts have also come of age. It is advising Telekom Malaysia on its potential acquisition of TRI and also advised YTL Corp on its $1.89 billion acquisition of Wessex Water from Enron Corp.


Best Foreign Bank - Citibank

There is one testimonial that can't be ignored, that of a country's president. This year Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo thanked Citibank for its "invaluable and innovative contributions to the development of the Philippines financial markets to the benefit of the government, private business, and consumers in availing of global advances in banking products and technology; for Citibank's role in assisting the Philippines to access global financial and capital markets in support of the country's development financing requirements; for Citibank's singular contribution in the training of generations of Filipino business leaders and finance professionals who have served the country's government and business sector with high standards of excellence and professionalism."

Of all the submissions Citibank put in this year, the Philippines was definitely among the best, giving all the information required and providing excellent testimonials. Citibank is the largest foreign bank in the country with a net income after tax that was up 20% last year. It now ranks third by asset size of any bank in the Philippines. Its local nature is reflected in the fact that of the 1539 staff it employs, 99% are Filipinos.

Since July last year it has been involved in 20 deals that have raised over $1 billion in foreign currency and Ps10.7 billion ($211 million) in local currency loans. In particular, Citi was the leading player in raising finance for the dynamic Filipino telecom sector, helping to raise $700 million in foreign currency, and Ps2.6 billion in local currency for Globe and Smart. Indeed, its $235 million project financing for Globe's Phase 8a project was the largest private sector financing in 2001. The bank won 97 new cash management mandates, grew balances by 25%, collection volumes by 100% and payables transaction volumes by 40%.

As one key client in the Philippines told FinanceAsia in its testimonial: "We have always looked to Citibank for the latest in cutting-edge bank banking technology and state of the art cash management solutions - banking technology like electronic banking and solutions such as Paylink and SpeedCollect which have greatly helped us in streamlining our disbursement procedures, in cutting cost, and in shortening our collection cycles."

Best Foreign Investment Bank - CSFB

Headed by Lito Sibayan, CSFB's Manila office is a hive of activity. It has been mandated to oversee the $4.5 billion privatization of Napocor, the most significant deal that will come out of the Philippines. It is also a joint adviser to First Pacific on its attempt to sell PLDT and Bonifacio Land Corporation to JG Summit.

On the debt side, it also led PLDT's $350 million bond issue, the largest private debt deal from the Philippines in 2002. In addition it led the $375 million exchange offer - the only voluntary exchange offer from a Philippine corporate in 2002.

Capping it all it was a joint bookrunner on the Republic of the Philippines $750 million global bond - the first sovereign global bond of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration.


Best Foreign Bank - Citibank

In the year when the full force of domestic and international competition was unleashed on the banking market in Singapore, Citibank showed its mettle. It maintained its position as the largest treasury player in the market with 11% market share for both the interbank and corporate sectors. More than $20 billion goes through its dealing rooms every day.

In cash management and trade finance, the bank continues to set the pace. In 2001 it closed more than 500 new cash and trade mandates. It leads in the creation of new collection and settlement products, both electronically and physically, such as Speedcollect Lock Box, Remote Check Collections and B2C Bill Settlement.

Citibank is also the leading foreign provider of credit to Singaporean companies. By blending the banking and investment banking skills of Citibank and Salomon Smith Barney, the bank offers a unique platform to best finance its clients' credit needs. A raft of Singapore dollar bonds and loans testify to Citibank's presence in the local debt market. These have been for local blue chip entities such as Tuas Power and ST Assembly Test as well as international names operating in the local market such as Den Norske Bank and General Electric Capital Australia. Citibank has yet again redefined the meaning of commitment in the Singapore banking market.

Best Foreign Investment Bank - JPMorgan

Lee Kuan Yew has always had a soft spot for JPMorgan, and when it came to rejigging the management at government-controlled DBS Bank, he looked to the distinguished ranks of JPMorgan for talent.

With that in mind, it is no surprise that JPMorgan has been doing so well in Singapore in recent times. Under the capable leadership of Philip Lee, one of the most friendly and dedicated bankers in Singapore, the firm has executed a wide range of deals.

Its year started with its defence for Keppel Capital, which was facing a hostile bid from OCBC. The deal soon turned friendly, but JPMorgan was able to get OCBC to raise its bid and thus get a better deal for shareholders.

Uniquely among investment banks, it managed to participate in both the Singapore bank consolidation deals. This is because it financed UOB's acquisition of OUB through a bridge loan and a highly successful S$1.3 billion subordinated debt transaction - the largest deal ever in the local Singapore dollar market and one of FinanceAsia's deals of the year from 2001.

Later it worked with DBS on its S$2.8 billion synthetic loan, thus working with all three Singaporean banks in the same year.

It also acted as advisor on the merger between TIBS and SMRT, a deal worth S$342 million; as well as advising Guoco Group and KPN on the sale of assets to SingTel.

In March, it then further emphasized the strength of its local presence by launching the first ever local currency convertible bond offering - a S$380 million deal for CapitaLand.


Best Foreign Bank - Citibank

Citibank is the largest and most profitable foreign bank in Thailand, making $240 million in pre-tax earnings in 2001, up 1.2% from the previous year. This can be compared and contrasted to the performance of local banks which saw pretax profits slide a collective 40% due to provisioning on bad loans.

Citibank accounted for 53% of all the profits earned by the 38 foreign banks in Taiwan. With its 15% shareholding in the Fubon holding company, Citi looks set to expand further. Clearly, it sees Taiwan as a strategically key market within the Asian region.

It has grown with Taiwan, so much so that the deputy mayor of Taipei City, Chin-Der Ou has praised it for its " significant contribution to Taiwan's economic development over the past 38 years."

Best Foreign Investment Bank - Salomon Smith Barney

Salomon has had a stunning year in Taiwan and has not put a foot wrong. In May it launched the ADR for AU Optronics, the first ever TFT-LCD manufacturer to be listed. It was also the first Taiwanese New York stock exchange listing since 2000. The $660 million deal raised 23% more than the offer size at filing.

In April it issued the $430 million convertible for Fubon Financial Holdings. This was the first financial holding company to access the international equity capital markets, and was the biggest convertible deal ever from Taiwan at the time and set the standard for all deals to follow. All Asian convertibles have fallen in recent weeks, but Fubon is still trading well.

Salomon also did the largest Taiwanese GDR since 1999, the $240 million follow-on for Realtek, a deal which came to market at its original size when all else was being downsized.

In October it made the running in Taiwan's FIG reorganization by advising on the merger of Taishin and Dah An Bank, advising Taishin. This was the first voluntary bank merger in Taiwan's history.

Another significant transaction was the formation of the new Lite-On in June. This saw Lite-On Technology merge with GVC, Silitek and Lite-On Electronics in a 4-into-1 merger that was a first of its kind in Taiwan's high tech sector, following the passing of the new M&A Act in January. It has created a company that is the third largest locally in the ODM and EMS sector and eighth biggest globally. With over 1,000 patents the company now ranks among the largest intellectual property owners in Taiwan's high tech industry.


Best Foreign Bank - ABN AMRO

ABN AMRO has 3,300 dedicated staff in Thailand and has been a pillar of the local financial scene in the last year. Since June 2001 it has grown its loan book by 14% and arranged most of the prominent corporate fundraising exercises.

In Thailand, it is important for banks to have a presence in both the domestic loan and the bond markets, given the way the two compete so enthusiastically for the attention of the CFO. ABN AMRO has a dominant position in both. On the bond side it has worked on a raft of deals including a series of megadeals from AIS. According to the Thai Bond Dealers Club it had a 15% market share in secondary bond trading in the first quarter.

On the loan side, it arranged 11 syndications worth over Bt33.6 billion ($810 million). This included the five year Bt16 billion loan financing for Total Access Communications.

In project finance it advised EGCO on the $140 million acquisition of a hydro power plant and in March won the advisory mandate for the $1.2 billion energy project financing for BLCP. In addition, in May, it was awarded an advisory mandate to structure a $626 million financing to allow TA Orange to build its network.

In cash management the bank has forged a relationship with Siam City Bank, which puts its own 120 branches (through Bank of Asia) together with Siam's 380 and gives it the best geographical coverage in Thailand, from a collections standpoint. Between July and March, its cash management collections and payments volume per month grew 42% and 22% respectively. Over 325 of Thailand's strongest corporates now utilize its cash management services. In trade finance it has joined together with Thai Exim and provides export collection services.

ABN AMRO provided excellent client testimonials to back up its claims. One top company said: "This letter is to relay sincere compliments for service of the highest caliber offered by ABN AMRO's team. The bank's local team goes beyond professional expertise showing the ability to build trust and a long lasting relationship with our treasury organization. The very friendly staff's attitude has always provided us with immediate answers for our day-to-day issues."

Best Foreign Investment Bank - Merrill Lynch Phatra

Merrill bought 51% of Phatra Securities after the Asian financial crisis, and in the process combined its own global footprint with a very deep presence in Thailand that it is very difficult for any competitor to match.

A leader in the local equity capital markets, it was responsible for one of the surprise deals of the year in 2001 when it launched the IPO for PTT. This $761 million deal was our Best IPO of 2001, and was particularly astounding in that it reawakened interest in the Thai growth story in the immediate aftermath of September 11. Pre-offering daily trading volumes in Thailand were Bt1.4 billion, but these now stand at Bt6.4 billion. It is possible to make a good case that PTT was a catalyst for this surge in activity.

The privatization's international tranche was six times oversubscribed; meanwhile the domestic tranche of $405 million was sold out in two minutes due to enormous oversubscription. Merrill Lynch Phatra remains a key part of forthcoming privatizations and looks to have a healthy pipeline. For example, it is one of the advisors to Airports Authority of Thailand on a corporatization strategy.

It also has strong links with the best companies in Thailand. Witness its $82 million equity-linked offering for Shin Corp in May. This was the first warrants offering since 1997 and the first zero coupon-like debentures in Thailand's history.

All in all, Merrill Lynch Phatra is well placed to benefit from the current resurgence of Thailand inc.

Share our publication on social media
Share our publication on social media