Day 3: Awards for Achievement 2007

Today we announce the Best Private Bank, Best Equity Brokerage, Best Financial Law Firm and our transaction banking awards.

We drew inspiration for our ôhypothetical clientö this year from the wave of private equity activity in Taiwan, which is encouraging entrepreneurs to rethink the ownership of their businesses.

Our client recently sold a controlling interest in his company to a financial sponsor for $30 million. He was seeking a private bank to develop an investment plan for the ôwindfallö. We specified that the clientÆs existing asset base which supported his current lifestyle, including his Taiwan residence and Swiss holiday home, were out of the purview of the current mandate.

The client and his son had been offered positions under the new ownership but were unsure how they would find the experience of being employees after being owners. Thus, they wanted an option of liquidity out of the portfolio, should they decide to try to pursue a new venture at any time. With respect to deploying the $30 million, the client wanted to use $1 million to set up a charity and the balance to be judiciously allocated with the intent to maximise returns and with a bias towards alternative investments.

One bank was able to offer an interesting solution of setting up the charity under a broader umbrella of charitable initiatives that enabled it to manage it in a cost effective manner. Another had some interesting proposals on using leverage to enhance the overall return. All participants effectively highlighted the need to focus on succession planning and offered training programmes for the second generation.

We also received some excellent ideas on alternative investment opportunities from all contenders, including proprietary solutions.

Ultimately, UBS continued on its winning streak and once again receives this yearÆs award. The Swiss bank's long track record of offering wealth management services, especially specifically in Asia, positioned it well. UBS also offered excellent - and unique - tax optimisation ideas and this was a compelling factor in our decision. Further, the experience of the UBS team was apparent and we were impressed with both some individual team members as well as the overall quality of advice we received.

But we would note that this decision is becoming increasingly difficult as the enhanced focus a number of firms are placing on offering wealth management services in Asia is standing them in good stead. We confer the 2007 award to UBS but equally recognise that the arena is becoming increasingly competitive and next year could well be a different story.


UBS has been the top broker in Asia for years and could have sat on its laurels last year, content that it was the reigning champ. Instead, it increased its research coverage of stocks by 153 names -- it now has 134 analysts and associates covering 707 stocks across the region. In China alone, the house follows 228 companies. Furthermore, it picked up coverage of new markets that smart investors are keen to learn more about: Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.

Its distribution also remains top-notch, with 70 Asian equities sales people focused exclusively on Asian equities -- and the firm boasts that three-fourths of the team are at least bilingual, almost half are former investment bankers and equity research analysts and more than half have been with UBS for five years or more. The bank has also continuously invested in technology that enables it to efficiently support its clients with bespoke innovative products.

Put simply, UBS remains the bank that others benchmark themselves against.


We make no apology for the fact that our award for best financial law firm is biased towards the law firms that advised on the deals we liked most in 2007, even though a good deal for a banker may not necessarily be a challenging one for a lawyer.

When banks and corporates choose legal advisers for their most precious mandates they choose the best firms they can get their hands on û and in 2007 they most frequently chose Linklaters, once again. It is the third year running we have picked Links as our top law firm in Asia, but this year was perhaps the easiest decision of the three.

As ever, Linklaters advised on top deals across the region during the past year, including several of our award-winners and many more of our short-listed deals. It negotiated Vodafone's $11.1 billion acquisition of a controlling stake in Hutchison Essar in India; in China it advised Hopson on its ground-breaking dollar-settled renminbi convertible bond, as well as on Khazanah's Islamic convertible in Malaysia and seemingly on almost every convertible in the market; in Pakistan it advised Merrill on United Bank's inaugural GDR issue; and in Singapore it structured Standard Chartered's securitisation of its trade finance loan portfolio.

As well as consistently appearing on the transactions we considered for our deal awards Linklaters also notched up some impressive non-transactional advisory work during the year. For example, it advised Isda and more than a dozen global banks on various matters relating to the derivatives framework in China.

For its concentration on quality clients and mandates, and its ability to service them across the region, Linklaters is far and away our financial law firm of the year in 2007


Citi had a stellar year with revenue up 23%, net income rising 26% and liabilities increasing 22% over 2006. It has also been a record year for Citi in terms of new mandates with deals worth $260 million excluding SMEs û a 40% growth over 2006. Citi further demonstrated its leadership by winning a high proportion of complex requests for proposals (RFPs) and a record number of non-RFP regional mandates. It also continues to be a leading provider to AsiaÆs largest regional treasury centres and shared-service centres.

CitiÆs clients include a high proportion of Fortune 500 multinational corporations, blue-chip Asian corporates, banks and non-bank financial institutions, as well as middle-market enterprises (MMEs) and SMEs. At the same time, Citi has led in technology and product development, rolling out a succession of new and innovative cash management and treasury solutions, which included host-to-host platform upgrades, sophisticated market solutions like Citibank Interest Optomisation, and linked investment solutions (Reference Alliance), as well as integrated receivables applications and major enhancements to Paylink û CitiÆs payments solution.

Of particular interest were its innovations in mobile payments, which in India enabled CitiÆs client to make payments to farmers in remote locations for agricultural purchases. In Malaysia, CitiÆs solution enabled workers to send remittances securely by mobile phone to beneficiaries overseas.

Citi for Bristol-Myers Squibb

CitiÆs solution for BristolûMyers Squibb (BMS) stands out for being both comprehensive and complex in that it covered its shared service centre (SSC) and liquidity management across 16 Asian countries, including challenging markets such as Japan, Pakistan and Vietnam. The request for proposals was demanding and won against tight competition from all the major cash management banks.

BMS Regional Treasurer Peter Quinton commended Citi for ôthe excellence of your cash management solutions, people and implementation processö.

He added that as a result of the implementation, BMS had established a market-leading interest optimisation liquidity structure across Asia Pacific, transparent market benchmark-linked credit pricing, a single bank structure for all its payments processing in 16 countries, and centralised investment management of surplus cash through a single investment desk.


HSBC maintained its dominance in what is an increasingly competitive industry. This year it has grown its customer base, rolled out new products, increased its staff, and seen a sharp 40% increase in revenue.

Trade finance services have long been a core competence of HSBC and it is unique in having a vast client base across all customer segments in Asia. It continues to demonstrate an appetite to bank customers of all sizes ranging from Fortune 500 corporates and Asian blue chip companies to SMEs. Its clients also extend over a wide range of industries. HSBC differentiates itself with its large footprint in Asia and emerging markets and its commitment to having people in place on the ground to deal with clients.

At the same time HSBC continues to pioneer product development in Asia both at the country level to suit the needs of the local market, and at the regional level with significant upgrades to HSBCnet-ITS, its electronic banking solution for handling transaction enquiries and document applications, and HSBCnet-SCS, its supply chain management platform. At the same time its advisory approach to customers resulted in the continued provision of innovative tailored trade and supply chain solutions.

JPMorgan for DMCI-MPIC

JPMorgan adopted an unusual and unique approach to providing bridge financing for a $240 million strategic acquisition in the Philippines. It used a trade finance instrument in the form of a standby letter of credit which provided strong financial assurance in a short period of time at a considerably lower cost than traditional bridge financing facilities.

The client, Philippine-based DMCI-MPIC a joint venture between Metro Pacific Investment Corporation and DMCI Consunji Holdings, needed the funding rapidly to enable it to complete its purchase of the Philippine governmentÆs stake in water concessionaire Maynilad Water Services Inc (MWSI).

When the central bank approves the pre-payment of MWSIÆs debts to foreign lenders and the government, the bridge financing will be replaced with a syndicated loan.
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