Joe Tsai, the CFO of Alibaba Group, was named the Capital Markets Person of the Year for 2012 at the FinanceAsia awards dinner last night. Held at the Grand Hyatt in Hong Kong, the dinner attracted more than 250 bankers and company executives and celebrated some of last year's greatest achievements in terms of deal-making.
The Capital Markets Person of the Year award was the only award to be handed out to an individual.
Tsai was one of the busiest CFOs in the region last year when it comes to capital markets transactions and also one of the biggest fee payers, as a direct result of the many bankers, advisers and lawyers that were involved in the numerous Alibaba deals.
The company raised money across the loan, equity-linked and straight equity markets and was responsible for securing the largest-ever financing package for a private-sector company in China at a time when most of the world was worrying about an uncertain macro-economic outlook and investors were highly sceptical both towards internet stocks and Chinese companies in general after losing quite a bit of money on other recent deals.
The money was used to simplify the group structure through a privatisation and a high-profile share buy-back from Yahoo and laid the groundwork for the upcoming listing of the Alibaba Group, which is shaping up to be one of the most anticipated IPOs globally – whether it hits the market this year or next.
Bankers who crossed paths with Tsai during the year, either as advisers to the company itself or to some of the other parties involved in these deals, testify to how tirelessly he worked to ensure the best possible outcome for each individual transaction while at the same time making sure that they all contributed towards the end goal. As one banker said: “These deals required a bit of artistry, and the biggest artist was Joe himself”.
A lawyer by training, Tsai was part of the team around Jack Ma that founded Alibaba in 1999 and has been its chief financial officer and a member of the board ever since.
The event, held at the Grand Hyatt in Hong Kong, also recognised Citi as Best Bank and HSBC as Best Commercial Bank, while Best Investment Bank went to Goldman Sachs, which had a solid year across the range of M&A (it won the house award), equity and debt. UBS won Best Equity House, Deutsche Bank won Best IPO House and Best High-Yield Bond House, while HSBC swept the board in the rest of the bond categories, collecting house awards for international bonds, offshore renminbi and local currency.