FinanceAsia is pleased to announce the winners of this year's House Awards for Australia and New Zealand.
The following houses have been chosen for best-in-class deal execution and their consistent commitment to client servicing. These firms have topped the league tables in their fields and led some of the most innovative and complex transactions of the year.
The award winners and their clients will be honoured at our 13th annual Australia and New Zealand awards celebration dinner on Tuesday, February 2, 2016 at the Park Hyatt on Sydney Harbour. For more information on this event, please contact Vicki Shaw at [email protected] or +61 2 9967 5774.
For winners of the Deal Awards, announced on Wednesday, December 16, click here.
BEST LOCAL COMMERCIAL BANK
ANZ continues to bring its Asian experience to bear on its domestic banking franchise. It remains the only Australian domestic bank that can truly provide multinational clients with cross-border service coverage. ANZ employs the right staff and makes the right business connections, ensuring that a good portion of its revenue comes from fees and non-interest income. This year the group has dialled up its focus on lending and business banking while also investing more in its digital platform. And it has stepped up its commitment to providing clients with the best advice on cash management, project finance, export finance, and debt and equity solutions. We congratulate outgoing CEO Mike Smith on eight years of innovation and good management.
BEST FOREIGN COMMERCIAL BANK
Many banks talk about their ability to cross-sell but Citi excels at it. In 2015, 71% of Citi’s customers had a multi-product relationship with the bank and a full 44% used all three of its main service platforms – transactional banking, markets and capital markets/M&A advisory. Clients praise Citi for being a trusted adviser and understanding their individual funding and cash management needs. They admire the quality of the bank’s frontline relationship staff and highly rate their solutions and industry knowledge. Citi continues to innovate with its virtual card products, helping large Australian clients release working capital, and it remains the number one provider of foreign exchange services to multinational companies.
BEST INVESTMENT BANK
UBS regained its crown as the Best Investment Bank in Australia this year through perseverance and hard work. The bank picked up several key Deal Awards, winning for Link Administration’s A$947 million IPO, Crown Resorts’ A$630 million hybrid and the A$10.3 billion privatisation of Transgrid. Its performance in the equity capital markets in 2015 was a standout, with the bank raising close to A$13 billion through more than 50 transactions (see Best Equity House), and in M&A it advised on several important transactions such as Federation’s merger with Novion Property, BHP Billiton’s demerger of South32 and the sale of Investa Property Trust to CIC. UBS also holds its own in the debt capital markets, although its bond franchise rarely tops the league tables.
BEST INVESTMENT BANK — NEW ZEALAND
In a year when all investment banks in New Zealand had at least two or three good deals to crow about, our judges picked UBS for its coverage across equity capital markets, debt capital markets and, to a lesser extent but still noteworthy, M&A advisory. UBS was joint lead manager on the largest IPO of the year – CBL Corporation’s NZ$125 million listing in September – and A2 Milk’s NZ$70 million block trade which was executed at a 1.2% premium to last close. On the DCM side, UBS was joint bookrunner on the NZ Debt Management Office’s NZ$2 billion 18-year government bond – representing the longest nominal maturity outstanding for the country. We commend UBS for its all-round commitment to the New Zealand market.
CORPORATE ISSUER OF THE YEAR
A downturn in the global commodities cycle is requiring companies like BHP Billiton to perform financial gymnastics to stay profitable. In 2015, the diversified miner completed a number of cost-saving transactions including the successful spin-off and subsequent refinancing of certain non-core metals assets in a deal known as South 32. With an enterprise value of some A$13 billion, this was the largest ever demerger in Australian corporate history. BHP Billiton was also behind a giant multi-tranche hybrid, issuing the equivalent of $6.5 billion in unsecured subordinated non-call fixed rate reset notes to investors in September. This was the first time a corporate simultaneously executed a hybrid in Europe and the US, and it was done in a single day.
FINANCIAL ISSUER OF THE YEAR
Westpac’s treasury team conducted a series of clever deals in 2015 to shore up its balance sheet. In June it announced the sale of part of its stake in BT Investment Management (BTIM) in a two-stage process involving an accelerated institutional offer and a unique retail offer where existing Westpac and BTIM shareholders were entitled to subscribe for 600 or 1,200 BTIM shares. The deal boosted Westpac’s tier 1 capital ratio by 10-15 basis points and increased BTIM’s free float, allowing inclusion in the S&P/ASX200. In October, Westpac followed the sell-down with a A$3.5 billion renounceable rights offer. It also executed one of the most successful securitisations of 2015, upsizing its WST 2015-1 RMBS [residential mortgage-backed securities] trade in May from A$750 million to A$2.1 billion.
BEST EQUITY HOUSE
Capturing a 21% share of the primary issuance market, UBS is a clear and consistent leader in raising equity capital for corporate and financial institution clients. It was lead manager on the two largest IPOs of the year for MYOB in May (A$833 million) and Link Administration in October (A$947 million) and also helped companies like Santos and Transurban raise billions of dollars through entitlement offers. UBS was instrumental in helping Australia’s commercial banks to recapitalise, acting as one of only two underwriters on the Commonwealth Bank’s A$5.1 billion entitlement offer in August, and then assisting Westpac to raise A$3.5 billion in October. For showing consistency and for tackling big deals, UBS is our Best Equity House for 2015.
BEST M&A HOUSE
Deutsche Bank shot to the top of the M&A announced league tables at the end of the year following its stellar piece of advisory work on the New South Wales government’s sale of Transgrid (see our Best M&A Deal). But this was by no means a last-minute flourish – the bank worked steadily on a number of clever transactions throughout 2015. Deal highlights included advising Santos on the A$7.1 billion takeover proposal from Scepter Partners; acting as sole financial adviser to ANZ on its A$8.2 billion disposal of Esanda; and working together with consortium partners KKR and Värde Partners on the A$8.2 billion acquisition of GE Capital’s Australia and New Zealand consumer finance business (see our Best Debt Finance Deal).
BEST LOCAL BOND HOUSE
National Australia Bank
National Australia Bank executed close to A$5 billion in the Australian corporate bond market in 2015 including important deals for BHP Billiton (A$1 billion 5-year MTN) and Telstra (A$500m 7-year MTN). NAB is consistently recognised as a leader for bringing new issuers to market and showed innovation during the year by arranging the first ever ‘simple corporate bond’ for Australian Unity (see Best Local Bond Deal) and originating the largest unrated, unlisted Australian dollar bond with a 3.5-year A$100 million deal for NEXTDC. On the financial institutions group side of the ledger, NAB helped to reopen the tier 2 kangaroo bond market with a A$700 million 10NC5 trade for Rabobank – the first regulatory capital trade from a kangaroo issuer in more than eight years.
BEST INTERNATIONAL BOND HOUSE
Combining a high-quality offshore bond offering with a competitive Australian dollar franchise, Citi executed bond transactions for a diverse range of clients in 2015. It arranged deals across all markets including AMTN, EMTN, 144A, US private placement and Japanese yen. Our judges particularly liked its work on Woodside’s $1 billion 10-year 144A deal in February, the Commonwealth Bank’s $3 billion 3- and 5-year senior note transaction in March, and Macquarie Bank’s inaugural US dollar tier-2 sub-debt deal in June. Citi runs a slick roadshow operation often resulting in reverse enquiries from key foreign accounts. The order book for Macquarie included $1.45 billion worth of bids from 83 accounts in Asia, demonstrating the bank’s ability to attract significant momentum from the region.
BEST DEBT FINANCE HOUSE
Westpac remains the top underwriter of structured finance, syndicated loans and asset-backed securities in Australia. While Westpac worked well with co-leads in 2015, the bank also sole led eight transactions with a combined value of more than A$3.7 billion, pointing to a strong appetite for calculated risk. Westpac has supported 14 of the last 18 successful bidding consortiums for Australian infrastructure transactions, making it the most successful infrastructure financier in the market. On our judges’ list of favourite deals for the year were the A$1.5 billion loan syndication behind BHP Billiton’s demerger with South32 and the A$1.5 billion WestConnex greenfield project financing.
BEST FINANCIAL LAW FIRM
King & Wood Mallesons
In a crowded advisory market, King & Wood Mallesons (KWM) staved off the competition for another year to be named Best Financial Law Firm. Our judges were impressed with the firm’s commitment to shaping regulatory change and developing innovative financing solutions, and its involvement in many of the winning deals below. KWM advised National Australia Bank on its mega A$5.52 billion equity raising, worked with General Electric on the sale of its A$8.2 billion consumer finance business to KKR, and advised South32 on its high-profile spin-off from BHP Billiton. KWM was also instrumental in helping Australian Unity to launch the country’s first ‘simple corporate bond’ aimed at cutting red tape for borrowers.