Day 3: Awards for Achievement 2006

Today we announce the winners of our house categories, including Best Bank and Best Investment Bank, as well as awards for Best Equity and Debt houses.
Best Bank/ Best Commercial Bank

The Citigroup machine rumbles on. The US bank continues to be strong across the board, and continues to recognise the importance of a strong local presence. Its acquisition of Koram Bank in Korea has thrown off cash, and proved a model for its future expansion plans.

Indeed, its recent success in leading a consortium to buy a controlling stake in Guangdong Development Bank for $3.1 billion is another potentially transformational move. The fact that GDB has 500 branches underlines the serious local presence this bank will provide. And the fact Citi will be the first foreign bank to gain control of a domestic bank speaks volumes, and says a lot about how the Chinese authorities view the æstamp of approvalÆ of having Citi in charge.

What also impresses is that CitiÆs strength is equally balanced across North Asia, Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent. The firm is also well balanced across the full array of commercial banking and investment banking products û whether they be derivatives, loans, G3 bonds, convertibles or cash management. Year-to-date it has raised $42.1 billion of capital for Asian clients.

Citi has a presence in over 17 countries and employs over 10,000 in its corporate and investment banking businesses. Within this its sales and trading team of 1,200 provide liquidity and solutions to one of the region's broadest array of clients.

Citi has continued to innovate throughout 2006. To take just one example: its advisory work on the M&A and loan side for KKR when it was acquiring FlextronicsÆ Software Development Systems. Indeed, the innovative structure ought to lay the groundwork for future LBOs from India. Critical to the structure was the repatriation of cashflows from India via share repurchases, with the result that dividend taxes were minimised. Little wonder this deal was named our loan of the year.

The ability to push the envelope and develop innovative solutions has always been a hallmark of the Citi culture. And with AsiaÆs strong growth the firm is positioned perfectly to see its profitability continue to surge in the region.

Best Investment Bank/ Best Principal Finance House
Goldman Sachs

On Wednesday GoldmanÆs bankers in Asia were told their bonuses. We can only imagine the staff at Italian Motors showroom were deluged. Indeed, the importance of the profit contribution from Asia continues to surge. This much was reflected in the recent round of partner promotions, which disproportionately favoured the region: Asia got 22% of the new partners, even though its share of global headcount is only 14%.

Put simply, this has been GoldmanÆs most profitable year in Asia, and there will be some who will be wondering whether it can be bettered. The Goldman æmodelÆ û now being widely emulated û has seen the firm harvest huge dollar gains from investments, while also retaining market leading positions in key client areas such as M&A and equity capital markets. Indeed, in the brave new world of Asian finance, the ability of Goldman to co-invest with its clients has become a distinct advantage.

Surprisingly, there was much less sniping about Goldman this year than in previous years. Perhaps thatÆs because one of the criticsÆ central arguments was recently neutered. In the past, there have been those who have said Goldman finds it hard to work with private equity firms due to its own investment appetite (via its PIA and SSG divisions). However, with Goldman advising Carlyle on its recent bid for TaiwanÆs ASE that argument lost some of its potency û especially since that deal represents one of the most innovative, landmark events of the year (albeit not one we can recognise with an award, since it is not closed).

During this yearÆs round of pitch meetings, one rival banker described Goldman as a ôFerrariö. The mystique of the Goldman franchise remains one of its chief intangible assets. One internal indicator we have of this is our own website. When we recently checked the 10 most read stories of the year, GoldmanÆs name appeared in four of the headlines.

All of the above must make it sound like this yearÆs decision was easy. It was not. We received exceptionally strong pitches in this category from Deutsche Bank, Merrill Lynch and UBS. Indeed, when we did peer reviews with senior bankers, it was clear that the award this year came down to Goldman versus UBS. The Swiss bank has made great strides in the past 18 months û improving its M&A presence dramatically and growing its China business intelligently. UBS has clearly confirmed its positions as a top tier, bulge bracket Asian firm. Credit for this success is probably due in large part to Rob Rankin, its Asian investment banking boss, who has imported much best practice from the Australian operation.

However, after doing our peer review, and doing our own analysis, we came out in favour of Goldman, which sits above UBS in the league tables for both equity and in our blended M&A table (where we gave half the credit to completed deals, and half to announced). If you add together GoldmanÆs volume in ECM, DCM and M&A it comes to $43.21 billion versus $35.44 billion for UBS.

Also aiding GoldmanÆs cause was its principal investing, which we have taken into account in judging this category for the first time. We took this decision because the landscape of Asian investment banking has shifted; and principal investing has become a vital part of the scene. In order to be profitable in Asia today, firms need to marry principal investment with advisory û much as 19th century merchant banks did.

GoldmanÆs Asian operations successfully do this. The US firm has made 18 principal investments this year, eight of which are publicly disclosed. Some are æveryÆ public, such as the $4.5 billion of profit it has (currently) made on its investment in ICBC. Then there is the pioneering investment in China food company, Shineway, where Goldman is looking to buy 100% via a consortium in which it holds 51%; or the acquisition of a stake in IndiaÆs National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange.

Married to GoldmanÆs æsmartÆ investing are a host of major investment banking transactions. It led the landmark IPO of Bank of China, and the biggest equity deal out of Korea for Lotte Shopping. It continued launching IPOs right into December for Kingboard Laminates (which in a rare situation for the Asian ECM markets was done with sole books), and for China Communications Services. In M&A it has worked on three defences, including advising KT&G on Carl IcahnÆs raid. It has also demonstrated repeat client business, such as advising Hutch on the stake sold by Hutchison Ports to PSA. It has worked on domestic Chinese M&A (Gome/ China Paradise); and worked with financial sponsors, such as in the afore-mentioned deal in which Carlyle is seeking to acquire ASE. On the debt side it was a lead manager on our high yield bond of the year for C&M in Korea.

And thanks to its JV in China, GS Gaohua, Goldman is extremely well positioned there, holding key domestic equity mandates in China û such as for Ping An.

Year after year, Goldman has been the firm to beat, and going into 2007 that fact has not changed.

Go to next page for more awards... Best Equity House

Speculation back in early November that 2006 was going to be the year when UBS was finally going to make it to the top of the equity league tables was squashed during the first weekend of December when Goldman Sachs priced two Hong Kong IPOs and a Pakistani GDR in short succession, tightening its grip on the number one spot.

However, UBS has made big strides this year after lingering in fourth or fifth place over the past three years and even though it is trailing its US rival in terms of volumes, as of December 8 it had worked on 33% more deals than Goldman (48 versus 36). It also had a much broader footprint in terms of the number of countries in which it is active as well as a greater diversification with regard to the size of the deals it takes on.

The bankÆs key strength lies in its on-the-ground presence in most major markets in Asia, including the Philippines, which most other investment banks choose to ignore because of its small size. It also has a first-class distribution which is supported by a strong secondary equities platform, including sales, trading and research.

This year UBS has completed deals in 10 countries across Asia with more than one deal done in each of those markets except for Malaysia and Taiwan. In the Philippines it has, together with Macquarie, been instrumental in driving the trend of ôre-IPOsö whereby illiquid companies are given a new lease of life with international investors through share sales that dramatically increase their free-floats.

The bankÆs ramp-up in China û the regionÆs single most important market in terms of both volumes and fees û has been particularly noteworthy, and has propelled it from 9th in 2005 to the uncontested leader this year with $6.1 billion raised for its clients.

Significantly, UBS is the only international bank that has been mandated as a bookrunner for two of the Mainland banks that have done IPOs or mandated their future lead managers so far û having been involved both in Bank of ChinaÆs $11.2 billion offering, which was the worldÆs largest in five years at the time of the June listing, and in China Merchant BankÆs H share IPO which raised $2.7 billion amid huge demand.

According to Dealogic data, the bank has helped raise $9.2 billion for its clients through equity issues as of December 8, giving it an 8.4% market share. Excluding equity-linked issuance, its market share increases to 9.3%. The bank is less prominent within the equity-linked space, but even so it was one of the three bookrunners on KhazanahÆs Islamic exchangeable which captured our award for best equity-linked deal this year.

UBS is an equity house that can do deals in any market, and this year has been consistently active, pricing deals every month - making it the 'anytime, anywhere' ECM house of Asia.

Best Equity-linked House
Deutsche Bank

This turned out to be one of the toughest categories to award this year with three banks virtually neck to neck in terms of volume in a market that picked up pace after a very sluggish 2005. As of December 8, Deutsche Bank topped the league table ahead of JPMorgan and Citigroup, but only $300 million worth of credits separated the three and they had each done 19 transactions.

Each of the banks also had their strengths and weaknesses, but after much deliberation we felt that Deutsche BankÆs unprecedented diversity in terms of geographies (eight), industries (10) and currencies (four) did outpace the competition. Deutsche was also active throughout the year with August and October being the only two months in which it didnÆt print a trade and was quick to switch its focus to other geographies once Indian issuance died down after the May correction. The bank led the last Asian CB before the correction û a S$200 million issue for Keppel Land û and also reopened the regional market following six weeks of no issuance with a combination CB and GDR for TaiwanÆs Powerchip in late June.

Other noteworthy deals include the largest publicly marketed CB out of Indonesia since the Asian financial crisis for Medco Energi, which followed on the heels of Deutsche having led the countryÆs first CB since the crisis in December 2005 for Berlian Laju Tanker; Hengan InternationalÆs HK$1.5 billion CB in April (joint books), which was the largest convertible and achieved the highest premium for a Hong Kong/China issuer; and a joint mandate on the M$1.1 billion offer for Resorts World, which was the largest ringgit-denominated CB ever as well as the largest negative yield transaction in Asia.

Deutsche also did the largest sole-book transaction this year û a $500 million CB for IndiaÆs Reliance Communication Ventures. However, this turned out to be a deal that could have cost the bank the award, given a widespread view within the industry that it had mispriced the offering and been left with a chunk of it on its own books. The bank stuck with its initial valuations, however, and when the market turned away it used its own balance sheet to cover the trade. That together with the fact that the bonds now trade well above par û following a sharp rise in the underlying share price û mean we think that the bankÆs achievements during the rest of the year outweigh the handling of this deal.

Best Mid-cap Equity House
Morgan Stanley

In 2006, Morgan Stanley made a big push in the mid-cap space û and helped medium-sized Asian corporates to raise over $14 billion. As a sign of the breadth of its business it led 10 mid-cap IPOs, six follow-on primary offers and four selldowns.

What makes Morgan StanleyÆs mid-cap franchise particularly compelling is its strength in the two key markets: China and India.

From China it launched the $263 million IPO for Hunan Nonferrous Metals and the $266 million IPO for China National Building Material. It also led follow-ons from China Flavours & Fragrances and Shanghai Forte, as well as sell-downs for China Paradise, China Power, Actions Semiconductor, Tianjin Development and AAC Acoustic Technologies. Some of these clients were sourced from the firm's close cooperation with its private wealth management division.

In India, its joint-venture JM Morgan Stanley, has a strong advantage when it comes to sourcing deals. This year the firm launched the IPOs for WNS (our mid-cap deal of the year), as well as the $173 million IPO for GMR Infrastructure.

Morgan StanleyÆs mid-cap franchise is diverse in the sectoral sense too: with clients ranging from building materials to retailers to textile manufacturers, and even to radio broadcasters.

What governs the entire strategy is Morgan StanleyÆs desire to spot the industry leaders of tomorrow, and build solid relationships with them today.

Best Small-cap Equity House
DBS Bank

DBS has carved a strong niche in bringing small-cap companies to market in both Singapore and Hong Kong.

In Hong Kong the firm sponsored and lead managed the HK$683 million IPO for Beijing Jingkelong, an integrated wholesale and retail distribution operator from Beijing. This was the largest IPO launched on the GEM board since 2004, and was marketed to 150 institutional investors via one-on-one meetings. The deal priced at the top end of the range and saw the Hong Kong public offer 547 times oversubscribed. It traded up 22.2% on the first day.

Another successful deal was the HK$787 million IPO for Win Hanverky, a China-based sportswear manufacturer and distributor. This was the first deal to launch in the Hong Kong market after the summer lull, and garnered aggregate total demand of HK$45.4 billion. On its first day of trading it surged 33%, in spite of the fact that the Hang Seng fell 180 points that day.

DBS also did a HK$96 million secondary placement for Tradelink in November. This company won our Small-cap IPO of the Year in 2005.

In Singapore, DBS is undeniably a strong presence. This year it launched the first business trust to be listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange. The $99.9 million IPO for Pacific Shipping Trust offered investors an extremely high dividend yield and broke new ground. Likewise it launched a S$11.9 million IPO for Texchem-Pack, a packaging solutions provider in Southeast Asia. It also managed the S$88.7 million placement in CSE, a systems integrator.

DBS has now positioned itself as a leader in the small-cap equity space.

Best Equity Brokerage

This proved a more difficult decision than in previous years, with strong pitches coming from rival banks û particularly the up-and-coming JPMorgan. However, when we canvassed the market it became clear that UBS remained the choice for this award û thanks to its processes, its scale, broad-based research capabilities and unrivalled internet portal.

UBS has been the top broker in Asia for longer than any other firm; and in the cyclical world of broking, that is a tough thing to sustain. Through sensible management it has become a flow machine; and with the addition of Beijing Securities, its China flows should add ammunition to the mix.

It has 100 analysts in the region, covering 537 stocks, and has a top three market share in virtually every Asian market. It is still the house that others benchmark themselves against; but UBS will be aware that the competition is hotting up.

Go to next page for more awards... Best International Bond House
Deutsche Bank

A repeat performance in the International Bond House of the Year category is no easy task, in what is perhaps one of the most competitive and publicly visible domains in investment banking. But in 2006, Deutsche Bank showed an enviable consistency in execution and demonstrated the depth of its Asian franchise by issuing G3 bonds from the most diverse array of countries and industries and across virtually the full range of the credit spectrum.

While there were some very strong contenders for the award this year, with several investment banks making significant strides in the overall market and excelling in key areas or key markets, Deutsche again demonstrated a knack for leading the market through new cycles and being one of the few houses to recognise the private market opportunity that has developed as a result of the increase of mid-cap demand for capital across local markets.

Building up from a strong 2005, Deutsche consistently showed its commitment to the development of the bond market in the region. This award is meant to recognise the investment bank that has best met the needs of the full array of AsiaÆs diverse range of clients; corporates, either high grade or high-yield, FIG, sovereign or quasi-sovereign. And Deutsche BankÆs movement across all segments of the market clearly demonstrates its commitment to the continued development of the market.

Deutsche opened the market with a bang in January with the blowout success that was the Republic of Philippines $2.1 billion dual currency eurobond. And has continued to go from strength to strength as the year progressed. It completed deals in 7 of the 10 issuing countries, and introduced the first Pakistan corporate to the international bond markets. Indeed, the deal for Pakistan Mobile was one of the most successful bond deals to emerge this year.

Deutsche was also a leader in bringing debut issuers to market, and did so with seven deals across six markets: the aforementioned Pakistan mobile; Fajar Paper and Mendia Nusantrara Citra in Indonesia, UTI Bank, the first bank-capital deal to close after the relaxation of IndiaÆs guidelines, Shanghai Real Estate in China and Penerbangan Malaysia.

Additionally, Deutsche played an important role in what was arguably one the most important sectors in this yearÆs public market, the bank-capital space; completing six deals across three countries with deals in Hybrid tier-1, and upper and lower tier 2.
For the past year and half Deutsche Bank's syndicate team has been successfully run by the expressive Mark Leahy and the deadpan Saab Dash, whose wry calmness has provided a perfect foil to LeahyÆs passionate enthusiasm.

Best High-Yield Bond House

AsiaÆs high-yield bond market presents an interesting dichotomy; banks have committed vast resources to the sector, yet once again it was a relatively marginal aspect of this yearÆs market in terms of volume.

However, its importance to the development of the broader Asian bond market û as well as its significance to an investment banks income û are nothing to take for granted. Indeed, both ensure that this sector remains an essential aspect of the Asian debt business.

In awarding this yearÆs High-yield Bond House, we sought a bank that was intrinsically committed to the sector and brought deals across the spectrum of the non-investment grade credit curve as well as transformational deals that have helped to establish standards in a space with so few clear benchmarks.

This year, UBSÆ high-yield bond franchise gets our nod for the award. Although we are not prone to looking primarily at league table positioning, it is difficult to dismiss UBSÆ dominance of the high-yield league table. At $2.2 billion in issuance from 10 deals and a market share of 23%, UBS almost doubles its nearest challenger.

Indeed, in a sector that continues to be one of the most demanding as issuance windows opened and closed unyieldingly, UBS excelled.

UBS was simply dominant in a sector that saw issuance levels slump as volatility ate away at the spaceÆs momentum this year.

UBS printed the tougher, low volume trades, such as the $100 million five-year deal for unrated Megaworld. It was also able to open up entire market segments with deals like the $250 million five-year non-call three-year deal for Lippo Karawaci, which opened up the Indonesian property sector.

In fact, UBS all but dominated Indonesian issuance in 2006, printing six successful deals, including the benchmark $1 billion dual tranche offering for Perusahaan Listrik Negara. That deal marked the largest non-investment grade corporate bond from Asia all year and, more importantly introduced a credit with $18 billion worth of capital expenditure plans over the next four years.

It was also present in China, the industryÆs great hope for the high-yield market, when it joint-led the $400 million seven-year deal for leading Chinese property developer Greentown. This was able to price at the tight end of its respective price range.

Best Bank-Capital Bank
Barclays Capital

As the implementation of the Basel II accords edges closer, banks across the region were compelled to improve their capital adequacy ratios in order to comply with the imminent standardisations of the accordÆs accounting regime.

Because of which, bank-capital management became a key theme in 2006, and the bank-capital space became an important facet of the Asian debt capital markets. The renewed importance in this sector has further compelled the editors of Finance Asia to introduce the award for Best Bank-Capital Bank.

And as the only bank to have ôcapitalö in its name, it seems curiously appropriate that Barclays win this award.

Barclays Capital was the hands-down frontrunner for this award. Under the guidance of Cynthia Whelan, Richard Grainger and Andrew Jones, Barclays was a leading force from the outset, opening up new markets, and introducing new innovative structures across the hybrid tier-1, and upper and lower tier-2 spaces, in a sector that made huge strides this year.

There have been 15 hybrid tier-1 transactions since 2001, Barclays was on point for almost half of those. Barclays built upon that strength and completed five hybrid tier-1 deals this year, more than any of its closest peers. Indeed, no other bank in the region was able to boast that depth of hybrid experience across structuring, syndication/distribution, secondary sales and trading and credit research.

Two of the banks most notable deals, were again firsts in the market. A $150 million 15-year non-call 10-year upper tier II subordinated debt for UTI Bank and this yearÆs winner for our Best Bank-Capital Bond Deal, a $200 million Reg-S hybrid tier-1 offering from MalaysiaÆs Public Bank.

UTI Bank became IndiaÆs first bank to raise bank-capital debt in the international market and established a national benchmark following the relaxation of guidelines on the issuance of foreign currency debt and hybrid instruments by India's central bank.

While the Public Bank deal introduced a new structure to the hybrid tier-1 space in Asia. BarclayÆs structure emphasised Public BankÆs debt aspects than other tier-1 deals, which primarily focus on equity characteristics. In effect the deal more resembles a tier-2 deal, but still ranks one notch lower on the subordination ladder.

Best Loan House

It is hard to imagine, but passions were unleashed when it came to pitching for the loan house category this year. Perhaps that was because there were three houses who all felt they had a genuine shot of winning.

In previous years, CitiÆs dominance of the Asian syndicated loan market has been absolute. Citi normally had a commanding lead in the league table, and going to its pitch was akin to a courtesy call. This has changed. Citi is less active on the flow side of the business today and hence ranks lower in the Asia (non-Australia, non-Japan) bookrunner league table than HSBC (top with $10.1 billion) and Standard Chartered ($9.1 billion). CitiÆs volume is $6.1 billion.

Of course, if it were just a question of looking at who was top of the league table, giving awards would be a less time-consuming process. However, CitiÆs pitch this year focused on its commitment to innovating in the loan market and structuring the most complex deals û particularly LBOs. It also showed us documentation of a very large sole bookrun Korean transaction that could not be included in the league table due to the clientÆs desire to keep it confidential. This would have narrowed the gap in terms of league table volumes.

All three banks û Citi, HSBC and Standard Chartered û gave excellent pitches, and in the case of the latter two, the best they had ever delivered for this category.

We therefore decided that peer review might help. We called six major loan banks that were not in contention for this award and asked them for their feedback on the best loan house. The result was that five nominated Citi, and one returned the verdict that there was no clear leader.

The message from the peers that resoundingly came back about Citi was that it had the best footprint and was the most balanced house in terms of volume and innovation. Said one banker: ôCiti is setting the groundwork in leveraged finance and high-yield deals. While it has lost ground in the league tables, it has a good mix between structured transactions and plain vanilla deals.ö Another banker added that Citi had brought deals to market that while aggressive, had got done, and noted another: ôCiti has done a bigger breadth of deals, which are better quality overallö.

Standout deals for Citi this year were its $368 million acquisition financing for KKR in India (see Loan Deal of the Year); the NT$32 billion LBO acquisition financing for Carlyle to buy EMC in Taiwan; and its $2.5 billion casino financing for Venetian Macau.

Best Local Currency Bond House

This is always one of the most difficult categories to judge, and this year we devised a scoring system to aid the process. This sought to assess a firmÆs capabilities via their absolute volumes of local currency deals, geographical diversity, and their product and client diversity. We also asked banks to submit what they thought were their five most defining and innovative local currency transactions of 2006.

After due consideration, this yearÆs winner is HSBC. According to Dealogic data it leads by volume with $7.85 billion from 176 deals; and it has issued local currency bonds in 10 countries (including Vietnam). It has issued Asian local currency bonds for 26 issuer nationalities; has led cross-border deals; bonds for supranationals as well as banks, quasi-sovereigns , agencies, banks and corporates. It has done bank capital, Islamic finance, retail-targeted issues, and dual tranche (ie local currency plus US dollar).

Among the deals HSBC chose to highlight were Ayala CorpÆs Ps5.8 billion ($110 million) perpetual preferred shares û the first ever local currency corporate hybrid issue û and our local currency bond of the year, BIDVÆs VnD2.2 trillion lower tier 2 offering û the first ever Vietnamese bank-capital deal. The bank also selected two pioneering examples of its Islamic financing: one in Malaysia for Bank Pembangunan (a unique MTN programme that enabled access to both Islamic and conventional markets), and its work with the Brunei government to establish its domestic capital market via government sukuks. Finally, on the plain vanilla corporate side, HSBC led the largest bond by a foreign issuer in the Singapore market this year, the dual tranche S$400 million offer for Cheung Kong of Hong Kong.

Highly commended: Standard Chartered

Best Islamic Finance House
CIMB Islamic

The award for best Islamic finance house was closely contested, between a bank with an overwhelming dominance in its domestic market, and an international bank with a vast worldwide presence.

Yet ultimately CIMB Islamic pips HSBC to the award for some compelling reasons.
CIMBÆs local market, Malaysia, is the biggest Islamic finance market in the world, and CIMB has successfully capitalised on its local knowledge to establish a leading position.

For the period under review, CIMB has participated in several deals which have acted as landmarks in the development of Islamic finance, such as Khazanah Nasional BerhadÆs $750 million Islamic exchangeable bond and other deals involving Penerbangan Malaysia, PT Excelcomindo Pratama, Islamic Development Bank and Tenaga Nasional.
CIMB has also managed a far greater variety of deals, rather than focusing on a few jumbo issues.

In terms of CIMBÆs international growth, especially noteworthy was the $200 million Sukuk for National Central Cooling Company (which it lead managed), a landmark mandate from one of the key Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states. CIMB has also set up a joint venture Islamic investment company in Bahrain to originate deals in IslamÆs heartland.

In Indonesia, considered a huge potential Islamic finance market, CIMB has a strategic presence via a stake in a local bank.

CIMBÆs experience in Islamic finance, and the ability to execute rapidly the complicated Islamic finance structures which comply with Sharia law, was cited by issuers as crucial to the success of their deals.

ôCIMB is a genuine 100% Islamic bank. They have excellent avenues to the Sharia councils around the region who can make or break a deal. They also have an instinct for what can or canÆt work,ö says one company executive.

CIMB IslamicÆs unparalleled Islamic finance structuring expertise, its strength in the biggest Islamic finance market, and its impressive international growth, all make CIMB Islamic the bank to beat next year.

Go to next page for more awards... Best FIG House

It has been a very strong year for UBS in the FIG area (financial institution group). Indeed, Chinese bank listings have been the defining trend of the year and no other firm can lay claim to have worked on two such IPOs in 2006.

UBS was a joint global coordinator on both Bank of ChinaÆs $11.2 billion IPO, as well as on the $2.7 billion IPO for China Merchants Bank. The latter earned the highest IPO valuation (on a price to book basis) of any of the Chinese banks, while the former briefly held the laurels for the largest ever IPO for a bank (displaced by ICBC).

On the M&A side, UBS has also worked on some of the most significant transactions. It advised Standard Chartered on its acquisition of Hsinchu Bank û a deal that marked the first occasion that a foreign bank bought control of a Taiwanese bank. This could be a catalyst for a broader û and much overdue û trend in Taiwanese banking. In Korea, it backed the right horse when it advised Shinhan Financial on its bid for LG Card. A price was recently set for this transaction û although it probably wonÆt close till the first quarter. And in the Philippines it also worked on the transformational merger between Banco de Oro and Equitable PCI û a deal which creates a new financial powerhouse in Manila.

On the bank capital side it also raised funds for Canara Bank, Lippo Bank and Metrobank (for which it also did an equity placement). UBS has therefore shown its capabilities in all the key FIG products and done so in seven Asian territories. Moreover, it has done so with a blue chip roster of clients that includes Bank of China, Shinhan and Standard Chartered.

Best GIG House
Merrill Lynch

When we looked at MerrillÆs general industries group (GIG) pitch this year we were immediately struck by how overwhelming its landmark transactions fitted into the GIG space.

On the M&A side there is our deal of the year for Cathay Pacific, Dragonair and Air China. This deal reshaped the Asian aviation business and Merrill advised Air China (see M&A deal of the year). There was also MerrillÆs work for Asia Aluminum; the deal which won our most innovative category this year, and also saw the US firm use its balance sheet to meet a client need.

On the equity front are its IPOs for Thai Beverages, Nine Dragons (which listed with a market capitalisation of $2 billion, and now exceeds $7 billion), Macquarie Korea Infrastructure Fund, Rayong Refinery and Reliance Petroleum.

On the debt side Merrill has led a bond and mezzanine finance for Berau Coal, as well as an exchangeable for Berjaya and a bridge financing for Las Vegas Sands.

Indeed, right up until the point at which were making our decisions on these awards, Merrill was printing GIG deals. It led the $2 billion IPO for China Communications Construction Company, and advised Techtronics on its acquisition of the iconic Hoover brand.

Best TMT House
Goldman Sachs

It says a lot for GoldmanÆs TMT franchise that in 2006 it has completed 26 major deals across nine countries in the telecoms, media and technology segments. It is also telling that it is a trusted advisor to 19 of the 27 TMT companies in the FinanceAsia 100, our Asian blue chip index.

Goldman is also the M&A advisor on what could prove the defining tech deal of the year û CarlyleÆs $6 billion acquisition of Advanced Semiconductor Engineering. This deal is ongoing, but market observers say that a slew of similar deals are waiting in the wings, and they will have a major impact on TaiwanÆs tech sector.

On the telecoms side it has executed deals this year for SingTel, China Mobile, Chunghwa Telecom, Hutch, Pakistan Telecom and Temasek (whose acquisition of Shin Corp may be better judged in 12-18 months time). In terms of media deals, Goldman has worked repeatedly with both GMarket and Focus Media, and structured our bond deal of the year for cable TV firm, C&M. On the tech front, its clients have included Infosys, Chartered Semiconductor, Winbond and Mindray (a medical equipment maker). It also advised on the deal that created the worldÆs seventh largest foundry with the merger of 1st Silicon and X-FAB Semiconductor in Malaysia.

In total Goldman worked on 17 financing transactions in the TMT area and nine M&A deals.

Best Real Estate House

This is a new category and one which we felt compelled to add when it became clear just how big a chunk of the investment banking market, real estate deals have become.

The immediate frontrunners for this award were JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley and UBS. All have been very active in the real estate space. Indeed Morgan Stanley is one of the regionÆs major real estate investors û although that activity did not fall within the purview of this category.

This award is designed to reward advisory services to clients. And this year JPMorgan has worked on 24 real estate transactions with a deal value of $7.6 billion. This includes five Reit transactions û including our Reit of the year for CapitaRetail. It also comprises 16 transactions for developers, including three IPOs (one of which, Shui On Land, was the biggest from the sector).

JPMorgan also has geographical diversity. It has done six real estate deals in both Hong Kong and Singapore; 10 from China and two from India. It has also been active in the market throughout the year, executing five deals in the first quarter, seven in the second, four in the third and eight in this quarter.

And via Greentown, JPMorgan demonstrated how close relationships lead to repeat business. JPMorgan did a pre-IPO convertible for the Chinese developer in January, led its $395 million IPO and then launched GreentownÆs $400 million bond in November.

Go to next page for more awards... Best M&A House
Not Awarded

This has been a strange and exciting year for M&A. Transactions ranged the gamut from those that set precedents; and which will form the basis for future M&A; or else skirted disaster, and thus setting a different kind of precedent, the ôwhat not to doö variety.

As we went through the pitches, we realised this was a year which highlighted the unknown, unpredictable dynamic in every M&A deal. None of the investment banks that lead the league tables have been able to end 2006 with a blemish-free record. We also recognise that, almost by definition, doing a larger number of deals û and the higher stakes deals û puts you at higher risk. The investment banks which have done fewer deals have managed to walk away from all of them head held high. But then, they have put their neck on the line less often.

We encountered a number of reasons for the deals that did not close. In some cases it may be too short a timeframe to judge whether a deal will ultimately prove successful.

From the sidelines we would only add that 2006 has demonstrated above all how important it is to ôpackageö M&A transactions in Asia in a sellable manner - and how critical to success it is to factor in political and environmental sensitivities.

Taking into account all of the above, we have taken the unusual decision this year not to select any investment bank for the best M&A house award. We hope not to have to repeat this move in 2007.
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