Asia's Best Borrowers

In this, our inaugural investor poll of Asia''s best borrowers, FinanceAsia received votes from 233 fixed income investors.

In conducting this, our first borrower poll, we structured the poll to reflect the buying habits of the investor community.

Thus the first part of the poll sought a ranking of the best borrowers by country and the second part sought to find the region's overall preferred investment and non-investment grade borrowers.

In the first category we asked investors to rank the best borrower in nine Asian countries - choosing from a universe of corporate, financial institution and agency borrowers (but not sovereigns). In the second category we sought to identify the region's best corporate and financial institution borrowers in the investment grade and non-investment grade categories.

The results represent an elite list of the region's finest borrowers.

Not surprisingly, oil and gas companies feature prominently. These companies - which normally have state-ownership and dollar balance sheets - are highly creditworthy, and beyond that have seen their credit profile and financials greatly benefit from the current high oil prices. Thus in China, CNOOC takes the laurels, and PTT in Thailand. Amassing the greatest number of votes in any single country was Petronas, which was the clear winner in Malaysia.

The financial sector was also well represented. A financial institution picked up the best borrower award in India (ICICI Bank), Korea (KDB) and Singapore (DBS).

That leaves telecoms. The runaway winner in the Philippines was PLDT, while Telkomsel came first in a highly fragmented vote in Indonesia.

Meanwhile, in Hong Kong the clear winner was Hutchison Whampoa, whose telecoms business is often viewed as the critical component of the company's credit profile. Indeed, Hutchison also won the award for the region's best investment grade corporate borrower (Petronas was runner-up). The sheer volume of Hutch's issuance and its professional approach to the markets last year may have commended it to the investors who participated in our poll. Its strong performance may suggest that these same investors may think the worst is over for Hutch's 3G business and its financing needs.

PLDT picks up the award for the best high yield issuer in the region - likely benefiting in our poll from its vastly improving credit profile in the past two years and its strong commitment to IR with its bondholders.

With its recent blowout success - a $750 million 15 non-call 10 year bond - DBS has reinstated itself as the premier financial institution borrower in the Asian markets.

And thanks to its successful forays into the international bond markets, Indonesia's flagship bank, Bank Mandiri won the best high yield category for a financial institution.

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