The following award winners and their clients will be honoured at our sixth annual awards dinner on Tuesday, February 3, 2009. The dinner will be held at our signature venue in Sydney û the harbourkitchen&bar, Park Hyatt. For more information on this event, please contact Vicki Shaw at [email protected] on +61 2 9437 3070.
BEST LOCAL COMMERCIAL BANK
With a flight to quality underway around the globe, banks like ANZ are increasing their market share. ANZÆs balance sheet remains strong, and its exposure to hazardous structured assets has been minimal and well-communicated. ANZ has the largest syndication team in the country with distribution capacity in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Hong Kong, and in 2008 it underwrote eight of the 10 largest deals across corporate, acquisition, leverage finance and project finance. The bank says it remains committed to its regional expansion and providing services to core clients, but it remains to be seen whether ANZ can help to take up the slack left by foreign banks that have retreated from AustraliaÆs loan market.
BEST FOREIGN COMMERCIAL BANK
Citi has stood by its franchise in Australia and still ranks alongside the æbig fourÆ domestic institutions as a top relationship bank. Global transaction services have been the mainstay of commercial banking this year and Citi is on track to achieve a 50% increase in revenues from this division in 2008. In September, the bank signed a deal with Westpac to offer a range of transaction products under the Westpac name such as online cash management, working capital and trade solutions. At the same time, Citi has excelled in providing access to the debt capital markets, helping firms like Westfield, ANZ and CBA to tap the US dollar and euro markets, while also being the number one bookrunner for Samurais by Australian issuers.
BEST INVESTMENT BANK
UBS has shown continued market leadership in volatile times. While the bank has pulled back somewhat in debt capital markets, it dominated the equities and M&A advisory markets with deals for blue-chip clients such as NAB, Wesfarmers, Zinifex, Coca-Cola Amatil and Transurban. UBS was the sole lead manager on the only notable IPO of the year for Ivanhoe Mines. But by far its gutsiest move was a A$1.6 billion ($1.06 billion) capital raising for troubled property trust GPT Group, which allowed GPT to fund its debt maturities through to January 2010. UBS also remains the largest broker on the ASX by volume, and maintains its hold on research and dealing, employing some of the top-rated analysts in the country.
BEST INVESTMENT BANK û NEW ZEALAND
Goldman Sachs JBWere
Capital markets activity was sluggish in New Zealand in 2008, but when deals were forthcoming, Goldman Sachs JBWere was there to execute. The firm played an active part in the largest M&A deal, advising Vector on the successful sale of its Wellington Electricity Network to Cheung Kong Infrastructure in April, which netted the utility company NZ$785 million ($428 million). It also acted as sole lead manager of VectorÆs inaugural bond offering in the European markets with an 11-year ú115 million ($172 million) fixed-rate senior unsecured note, and completed two sizeable deals for ANZ National in the US dollar bond markets. Goldman Sachs JBWere ranks number two on the New Zealand stock exchangeÆs list of traders, with a 15% share of the market.
MOST INNOVATIVE INVESTMENT BANK
MacquarieÆs work in securitisation shows how the home-grown investment bank continues to innovate and adapt quickly to changing market conditions. Macquarie had its fair share of detractors in 2008 and the firmÆs stock price received a battering, but a solid flow of deals from its capital markets bankers showed that they were not distracted by internal concerns and remained focussed on doing deals for needy clients. The equity markets division completed A$500 million-plus ($330 million) placements for Leightons, Wesfarmers, Alumina and Goodman Group, while Macquarie Capital advised on some groundbreaking M&A deals including Xstrata/Jubilee Mines, Bupa/MBF and Incitec Pivot/Dyno Nobel.
ISSUER OF THE YEAR
Primary Health Care
When Primary Health Care announced its A$3.5 billion ($2.3 billion) all-cash, off-market takeover of Symbion Health in November 2007, the medical services company called on several banks to provide an innovative and flexible funding package. While Caliburn advised Primary on creative bid pricing and the use of defeating conditions, the lead managers underwrote the deal for several months during turbulent markets. The final package included a A$184 million institutional placement, a A$1.12 billion entitlement offer (completed in March 2008), a A$400 million equity bridge and a A$2.4 billion acquisition bridge. The flexibility of the financing package allowed Primary to buy a business more than twice its size without taking any balance sheet risk of its own.
BEST EQUITY HOUSE
Goldman Sachs JBWere
In a tight contest between the top three ECM players in 2008, Goldman Sachs JBWere wins the Best Equity House award for its leading role in the largest and most complex transactions. In a year dominated by sizable placements, the firm worked on offerings for GPT Group, Orica, NAB and Wesfarmers. It also underwrote dividend reinvestment and direct investment plans for NAB, Wesfarmers, Billabong and Healthscope, and delivered hybrids for ANZ, Macquarie CPS Trust and Alumina. Goldman Sachs JBWereÆs ECM franchise has been gathering momentum in recent years and its deal list in 2008 shows that the firm is now a chief contender.
BEST M&A HOUSE
Caliburn Partnership has come close to winning this award for several years, and in 2008 takes the lead over its worthy rival UBS û but only by a whisker. Indeed the two firms sat on opposite sides of the table on many deals this year such as Primary Health Care/Symbion, Westpac/St George and Oxiana/Zinifex. But significantly, Caliburn was also involved in the A$2.6 billion partnership between Santos and Petronas in Gladstone, and acted for CHAMP Ventures in its private sale of Amdel, a deal that achieved an internal rate of return of 169% for CHAMP. With the global financial crisis causing many investment banks to rethink their strategies, firms like Caliburn that exist by providing top-quality confidential advice to clients, have a winning business model.
BEST INTERNATIONAL BOND HOUSE
It was J.P. MorganÆs involvement in a number of corporate bond transactions, as well as its ranking in industry league tables, that attracted the attention of our judges this year. In choppy markets, the bank led deals for Wesfarmers, Rio Tinto, Telstra, Boral and United Group. The transactions tapped a mix of investors in different currencies from the sterling and euro markets, to the public and private placement markets in the US, and were executed for a range of credits, including a high-yield US dollar deal for Moly Mines. On the financial institutions front, J.P. Morgan managed senior and subordinated issues for the æbig fourÆ commercial banks as well as for St George, Suncorp and Macquarie.
BEST LOCAL BOND HOUSE
Commonwealth Bank of Australia
Most of the deals done in AustraliaÆs domestic bond market in 2008 were completed in the first six months of the year. CBA wins the Best Local Bond House award again for completing a variety of deals for a variety of issuers. Its deal list shows investors were taking a more conservative stance on credit and includes some notable transactions: a debut A$500 million ($330 million) five-year benchmark deal for International Finance Corporation; a A$1.125 billion two-tranche bond for Royal Bank of Scotland; and a A$250 million tap for the Asian Development Bank that was increased in size from A$200 million. CBA acted as sole lead manager on this latter transaction, as it did on at least another five deals during the year.
BEST SECURITISATION HOUSE
With the turbulent markets requiring banks to think on their feet, MacquarieÆs debt markets division maintained its franchise by successfully securitising a diverse range of assets. Since 1998, when the bank arranged the first public Australian auto issue, Macquarie has invested many man-hours fostering new securitisations. This strategy reaped dividends in 2008 with several large auto- and equipment-backed deals making up for the poor appetite for mortgage-backed securities. The A$1.2 billion ($793 million) SMART Series deal for Macquarie Leasing in June included a tranche that qualified for ECB repo-eligibility, and the A$1.24 billion Crusade ABS deal for St George bank in July remains the largest securitisation completed during the year.
BEST BROKERAGE HOUSE
There isnÆt much between UBS and Macquarie when it comes to volumes on the Australian Securities Exchange, but UBS still executes more trades than any other bank in the country. In the review period for these awards, UBS executed over 17.5 million trades totalling A$275.6 billion ($182 million) and accounting for 10.2% of the market. Institutional clients praise the bankÆs 34-strong sales team for maintaining its commitment to Australia when other brokers have pulled out, for having zero conflict of interest, and for an energetic approach regardless of the market turbulence.
BEST EQUITY RESEARCH
Last year UBSÆs model Aussie portfolio was up by more than the ASX200 benchmark, and this year it is down by less û nearly 5% less in fact. ItÆs a noteworthy achievement when you consider that finding outperforming stocks becomes more critical in a downturn. Some of its top picks have been Boral, Computershare, CSL, Tabcorp and Westpac. The bank hasnÆt reduced its coverage of Australian companies since the financial crisis began and has produced some global reports with local appeal, including an in-depth stock report summarising the impact of climate change on Australasian equities. Some of its best price forecasters are Scott Kelly, who covers transport, and Ben Gilbert, who covers retailers.
BEST FINANCIAL LAW FIRM
Mallesons Stephen Jaques
Mallesons regains this award in 2008 for its involvement in many of the key M&A and capital markets transactions during the year. Its sizeable M&A team of 60 partners and 200 solicitors worked on multi-billion dollar deals for Chinalco, Incitec Pivot, Primary Health Care, Xstrata, BG Group and Lion Nathan. On the capital markets side, the firm has handled equity placements for QBE, NAB, Goodman Group and CSR, and advised on a myriad debt and project finance deals. Mallesons expanded its Asian footprint in 2008, receiving approval to operate under its own name in Shanghai. The firm claims to have the highest per partner revenue performance in the marketplace at A$2.9 million ($1.9 million).
The Best IPO deal has not been awarded this year.
BEST SECONDARY OFFERING (Joint Winners)
CSL, A$1.74 billion equity placement
Merrill LynchÆs lightening fast placement for plasma and vaccines business CSL took the market by surprise in August. The fully-underwritten deal was executed to fund CSLÆs $3.1 billion acquisition of Talecris from Cerberus Partners and Ampersand Ventures, and was completed on an accelerated 24-hour timetable to take advantage of the acquisition story and the companyÆs full-year results. The placement was priced off a stock that had rallied nearly 13% in the week prior to the launch, and priced at a tight 0.7% discount to 5-day VWAP. As sole bookrunner, Merrill generated in excess of $3 billion of demand from 172 accounts.
Commonwealth Bank of Australia, A$2 billion equity placement
Citi, CommSec, Credit Suisse, J.P. Morgan
The bookrunners of CBAÆs equity placement in early October get full marks for rallying investors in one of the most volatile trading weeks in 2008. With the proceeds of the placement going towards a A$2.1 billion ($1.4 billion) acquisition of HBOSÆs local BankWest business, the arrangers were unable to pick the timing of the transaction as other banks did on subsequent capital raisings. The deal was executed one week prior to the Australian government announcing a guarantee on all banking deposits, and was issued on a day when the ASX200 was down 5%, the Nikkei was down nearly 10% and UK banking stocks were hammered on the previous night.
BEST EQUITY-LINKED DEAL
Alumina, $350 million convertible bond
Goldman Sachs JBWere
In May, resources company Alumina issued $350 million worth of convertible bonds, winning praise from equity analysts for utilising the right structure at the right time. The US dollar transaction was a debut offering for Alumina and the proceeds were used to refinance bank facilities, reducing its near-term refinancing risk. The company achieved a 2% coupon and a 30% conversion premium, representing a coupon in the lower half and a premium in the upper half of the range, and translating to a Libor minus 140bp funding rate for Alumina. Strong investor demand allowed the deal to be upsized from $300 million with 63% of the bonds being sold to Asian accounts.
BEST M&A DEAL
St George BankÆs A$18.5 billion merger with Westpac
Adviser to Westpac: Caliburn Partnership
Adviser to St George: UBS
After fending off suitors for more than four years, AustraliaÆs fifth largest bank, St George, finally agreed to a merger with Westpac. When the proposal was announced in May, the deal valued St George at A$18.4 billion ($12.2 billion) making it by far the biggest transaction in 2008. The offer price of A$33.10 a share represented a 28.5% premium to the trading price at the time. The all-scrip structure allowed Westpac to keep the bid active while the markets pitched and dived, with the implied multiple paid for St George falling by over 35% between announcement and completion. The deal can hardly be dubbed a bailout, but the benefits offered to St George in terms of earnings potential and funding certainty gave shareholders little choice but to approve the merger.
BEST LOCAL BOND DEAL
AMP, A$350 million three-year notes
J.P. Morgan, UBS
Priced to ensure maximum participation, AMPÆs A$350 million ($231 million) senior unsecured note transaction was a gutsy move in an otherwise barren corporate debt market. The deal was upsized from A$200 million when investors poured into the books, chasing an attractive price of 170bp over 90-day BBSW, which was about 30bp above the indicated price guidance. The result allowed AMP to go for volume and secure scarce funding during the global credit squeeze. With no direct comparable in the domestic bond market, AMP and lead managers J.P. Morgan and UBS rewarded investors for the effort they took to analyse the credit. The deal comprised three-year fixed and floating tranches.
BEST INTERNATIONAL BOND DEAL
Westfield, $1.1 billion 144a Reg-S senior notes
Citi, Deutsche Bank, Merrill Lynch
Westfield is no stranger to the international bond markets, but deserves praise for its journey to the 144a markets with a large $1.1 billion deal in April. The 10-year deal was the first transaction in the senior unsecured market by a real estate investment trust in six months, and effectively reopened the market for Reits. A three-team roadshow met with 40 investors over two days, leading to an oversubscription of 1.5 times. Just over half of the investors were new to the credit. The deal priced at 375bp over Treasuries, higher than what Westfield has paid in the past, but on par with the price of its existing notes in the secondary market at the time.
BEST SECURITISATION DEAL
SMART Series 2008-1E, A$1.2 billion auto- and equipment-backed
J.P. Morgan, Macquarie, RBS
In a year when securitisation has been likened to a swear word by many in the West, AustraliaÆs asset-backed market has remained relatively robust, partly because issuers have been able to think quickly and find windows of opportunity. In June, Macquarie Leasing sold a package of auto- and equipment-backed loans generating enough demand from investors to upsize the deal from A$650 million to A$1.2 billion ($793 million). The deal included Ç455 million ($609 million) worth of notes that are repo-eligible with the European Central Bank û the first eligible bonds secured by Australian originated assets. The euro notes attracted a mix of bank and fund buyers from the UK, Spain, the Netherlands, Ireland and Singapore.
BEST PROJECT FINANCE DEAL
NCIG coal export terminal, A$1.6 billion
ANZ, BHP Billiton Finance, Dexia, DZ Bank, KBC Bank, OCBC, SMBC, Suncorp-Metway
The A$1.6 billion ($1.1 billion) financing of Newcastle Coal Infrastructure GroupÆs export terminal achieved financial close in January making it not only eligible for this award but an obvious winner. The new terminal is needed to clear persistent bottlenecks in AustraliaÆs largest coal export port, and when completed in 2010, will allow the mining companies that own NCIG to ramp-up coal production. As sole financial adviser, ANZ had the tricky task of structuring a deal that allocated risk across multiple users, equity investors and debt providers. ANZ derived a payment structure that was sufficient to meet ongoing operational and financial commitments by incorporating a variable charge for the use of the new terminal.
MOST INNOVATIVE DEAL
Gunns Limited, A$334 million equity placement
Credit Suisse, J.P. Morgan, Macquarie
Awarded as much for its degree of difficulty as for its innovation, the A$334 million ($220 million) placement for timber miller Gunns Limited in October was completed in the nick of time. A contentious company with high levels of debt, Gunns urgently needed to recapitalise its balance sheet. The features of the deal û it was non-renounceable, the price was set via a bookbuild and it wasnÆt underwritten û were all chosen to ensure maximum investor participation and a reasonable price for the issuer. The institutional offer was marginally upsized while retail support was minimal û an outcome that didnÆt surprise the arrangers given the market turmoil.
BEST NEW ZEALAND DEAL
Vector WellingtonÆs NZ$785 million sale to Cheung Kong Infrastructure
Adviser to Cheung Kong Infrastructure: UBS
Adviser to Vector: Goldman Sachs JBWere
Adviser to Auckland Energy Consumer Trust: RBS
The sale of the Vector Wellington Electricity Network to Hong Kong-based Cheung Kong Infrastructure in April was the largest deal in the New Zealand capital markets in 2008. With the country in recession for most of the year, deals were few and far between, but the Vector Wellington transaction was done at a good price and allowed Vector to pay down debt. CKI paid 10 times Ebitda for the power distribution assets, compared to a trading multiple at the time of 8.4 times Ebitda. The deal needed Overseas Investment Office approval, which added uncertainty and execution risk. CKI now has a job on its hands to improve the companyÆs revenue profile.