When we called for submissions for our FinanceAsia Achievement Awards 2022 back in September last year, we could not have imagined that events would have moved so fast.
Covid-19 recovery, supply chain disruption and global geopolitical shocks have all been the hallmark challenges of 2022, and each is set to intensify further in 2023.
The themes that emerged in this awards year were not simply resilience – the ability to double down in a crisis, after all, is part of sound financial management everywhere – but the capacity to seize opportunities, too.
Now in our 26th edition, the quality of the awards submissions improves year on year, and more than 600 high-calibre case studies and presentations showcased the very best from Asia Pacific’s financial markets, displaying ingenuity in the face of unprecedented headwinds.
Those investors, asset owners and financial houses that showed a talent for not only sitting out a crisis but turning it to their advantage, were the kind of submissions that won our prestigious awards.
In addition to congratulating the winners, we would also like to thank the jurors and advisors who helped us with decision on the banks, brokers, law firms and rating agencies that were shortlisted and selected.
Tony Adams – Managing partner, R66 Capital
Sandeep Aggarwal – Independent strategic-cum-financial advisor
Agnes Chen – Managing director APAC, CSC Global
Sandy Gilles – Market education consultant, First Metro Securities
BK How – Regional managing director, Ofisgate
Philip Lee – Corporate, M&A, international capital markets partner, DLA Piper
Richard Liao – Chief executive officer, Hwahsia Glass
Patrick Ng – Group treasurer, RGE Group
David Morton – Non-executive chairman, Helsinki Foundation Asia Pacific
Vivek Sharma – Head of international clients group, Nuvama Group
Rocky Tung – Director and head of policy research, Financial Services Development Council (FSDC)
Sangeeta Venkatesan – Non-executive director and investor, FairVine Super; former chief operating officer, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Nomura
Read on for details of the winners we selected for the Deal Awards Asia category.
BEST BOND DEAL
Government of Singapore’s inaugural S$2.4 billion ($1.81 billion), 50-year green bond deal
MLAUB: DBS Bank, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, OCBC, Standard Chartered Bank (joint bookrunners)
Advisors: Allen & Gledhill (legal advisor), DBS
This deal marked a number of firsts for Singapore: the first sovereign green bond issuance, the first issuance to introduce syndication (previously all issuances had been via auction), and the first with a 50 year tenor.
Sovereign bonds are often used in bond markets to provide benchmarks from which yields are determined for other debt instruments. In this case therefore, stretching out the tenor was significant.
Previously, the longest tenor issued by the city-state had been 30 years, but this new bond – set to mature in 2072 – provides the Singapore-dollar bond market with a new data point for pricing longer-term debt.
It was this factor in particular, that caught the attention of awards judges who described this deal as being “impressive for its long maturity”.
As Singapore’s inaugural sovereign green bond, the issuance also marks an important milestone in Singapore’s sustainability journey, forming part of a pipeline of up to S$35 billion ($26.5 billion) of sovereign and public sector green debt.
Ultimately, the proceeds from the bonds will be used to finance expenditures to back the Singapore Green Plan 2030, including two new MRT lines; the Jurong Region Line and the Cross Island Line.
The book-building process for the bonds saw strong investor demand, reflected in a placement orderbook of more than S$5.3 billion, or 2.26 times the principal amount of bonds offered.
Joint bookrunners on this transaction were DBS, Deutsche, HSBC, OCBC and Standard Chartered. The legal advisors were Allen & Gledhill.
Some S$2.35 billion of the bonds were placed with a diverse mix of high-quality Singapore institutions and other investors outside the US. The remaining S$50 million of the bonds were offered publicly to retail investors in Singapore.
Overall, judges were impressed with a green bond that was well-placed in a market that is showing increasing confidence in the Singapore government’s commitment to sustainability.
It is also hoped that the extension of the sovereign yield curve to 50 years will further develop the Singapore dollar bond market and support longer-tenor corporate issuances.
BEST EQUITY DEAL
China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL)’s $6.7 billion A-share private placement
MLAUB: China Securities Company (lead sponsor), CICC, Goldman Sachs (joint bookrunner), Huafa Securities, UBS (joint bookrunner)
It’s been little more than a year since Goldman Sachs took full control of its mainland Chinese joint venture securities business, Goldman Sachs Gao Hua Securities (GSGH).
In that time, it has grown quickly to be number one among international investment banks for equity and equity linked-offerings in the A-share market. It has also risen to be among the top 15 A-share market investment banks, since 2021.
CATL’s $6.7 billion (RMB45 billon) A-share private placement was typical of the heavyweight placement capability the company now commands in China.
Described by award judges as a “great accomplishment from a size and timing point of view”, the CATL offering was hard to beat in terms of size, price and superlatives.
It was the largest ever A-share marketed follow-on, the largest follow-on globally in 2022 year-to-date (YTD), the largest equity raising for Chinese issuers in 2022 YTD, and the second largest equity financing in the sector globally in 2022 YTD.
CATL, founded in 2011 and headquartered in Ningde City, Fujian Province, China, mainly engages in R&D, manufacturing and the sale of electric vehicle (EV) battery solutions, energy storage solutions, as well as lithium battery materials (battery recycling).
As the world’s largest EV battery firm in terms of installation volume, it has been ranked top globally for battery installation for five consecutive years to 2021.
A growth sector such as EV battery systems is bound to find strong investors, and Goldman’s high-quality investor base ensured the placement attracted the best of the best. Ultimately, the deal generated strong subscription interest from some 22 high-quality investors which included Temasek, GIC and Hillhouse, among others.
It was the second transaction executed by Goldman Sachs for CATL since its A-share listing in 2018, further cementing the firm’s leading position in the China region.
BEST ESG DEAL
New World Development’s $700 million social and green dual tranche bond offering
MLAUB: HSBC, Mizuho Securities, Morgan Stanley, Standard Chartered and UBS (joint bookrunners)
Advisors: HSBC and UBS (joint green structuring advisors and joint social structuring advisors), Clifford Chance, Linklaters
Viewed from almost any angle, this offering was unprecedented in terms of scope and scale for both the issuer, New World Development (NWD), and banking participants.
As a landmark transaction for NWD, it was multi-faceted. NWD not only became the first corporate in the world to price a US dollar social notes and green perpetual dual tranche issuance, but also the first non-financial corporate in Asia to issue US dollar social notes, as well as the first corporate in Hong Kong to issue a US dollar green perpetual in the public bond markets.
None of this escaped the attention of our judges, who described the deal as “a clear example of the high calibre award-winning ESG capabilities”.
The twin-tranche transaction involved $200 million 5.875% regulation S senior unsecured fixed rate social notes due in 2027, and $500 million 6.150% regulation S senior green perpetual securities.
What impressed judges, however, was not just the size of the deal but also the fact that it broke new ground in terms of intangibles.
The transaction represented the first-ever bond mandate awarded to Standard Chartered from NWD, marking an important breakthrough in its banking relationships with the client group. For the bank, the deal not only polished its credentials in Hong Kong debt capital markets, but showed a strong commitment to sustainable business initiatives.
With a solid execution against the backdrop of a volatile market, the banking teams helped produce a very strong orderbook despite competing primary supply. To do this required teamwork and creativity, but above all, exquisite timing.
Following the relatively stable US session in which the US yields edged down slightly, the company decided to accelerate the trade ahead of the much-anticipated consumer price index (CPI) data release the same week and Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), the following week.
The results were stellar: despite six other US dollar transactions book building on the same day in Asia ex-Japan, the social and green label of the notes finally attracted a combined orderbook of over $3 billion.
There’s little doubt the robust execution of this deal will lead to more opportunities for the bank going forward.
GoTo $1 billion IPO
MLAUB: CLSA, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Indo Premier Sekuritas, Mandiri Sekuritas, Trimegah Sekuritas (underwriters)
Advisors: Assegaf Hamzah & Partners, Hiswara Bunjamin & Tandjung in association with Herbert Smith Freehills
While Indonesia’s GoTo has struggled to maintain the valuations it achieved at launch – sinking around 70% in December as early backers passed on a secondary share offering ahead of the stock’s lock-up expiration – award judges were impressed by the courageous timing of the April listing.
Formed by the 2021 merger of ride hailing-to-payments company, Gojek, and e-commerce leader, Tokopedia, GoTo straddles millions of small and mid-sized firms across the archipelago.
Its market debut bucked global weakness caused by rising interest rates and the Russia-Ukraine war, to be the world’s fifth largest IPO when it launched, rising by 13% on the first day of trading.
“There was no perfect timing for this IPO, but our focus was on Indonesia, with a local investor audience,” GoTo’s CEO, Andre Soelistyo, a former private equity banker who steered Gojek’s push into consumer services, told a press conference at the time.
Award judges took the same view: “The merger of the two biggest and most successful start-ups in Indonesia will always be fraught with difficulties,” the award panel said. “The timing of the IPO has been equally difficult and challenging.”
“Even though the stock price has fallen considerably, the IPO exercise on its own merits deserves mention and award.”
Lead underwriters Indo Premier, together with Mandiri and Trimegah, successfully completed the IPO with a transaction value of IDR15,787 billion ($1.1 billion). The deal was singular for the fact that it was the largest Indonesia IPO using a domestic format.
The IPO had the most inclusive equity programmes ever conducted, providing employees, driver-partners, merchants and consumers in the GoTo’s ecosystem with the opportunity to benefit from the IPO.
It was also the largest Indonesia IPO year-to-date in 2022 and was the first Indonesia IPO using multiple voting shares (MVS). The deal included a greenshoe option by way of over-allotment of treasury shares (up to 15% of the IPO shares) – a complex structure that had never been attempted in an Indonesian IPO.
BEST ISLAMIC FINANCE DEAL
Republic of Indonesia $3.25 billion dual tranche sukuk issuance
MLAUB: CIMB, Deutsche Bank, Dubai Islamic Bank, HSBC and Standard Chartered Bank (joint bookrunners, joint lead managers); BRI Danareksa Sekuritas and Trimegah Sekuritas Indonesia (co-managers)
Advisors: HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank (joint green structuring advisors)
Issuing the biggest global sukuk transaction in history is one thing, but achieving all of this amid intraday market volatility, is another. But with a strategy of “keep up the momentum, and the investors will find you”, the sovereign was vindicated in its strategy of pricing to sell.
At Asia open on May 24, the $5-year tranche and 10-year green tranche were announced at an initial price guidance in the 4.75% area and 5.10% area, respectively.
This served to prime the orderbook which registered strong investor interest, reaching demand of more than $2.5 billion across both tranches in less than 90 minutes after announcement.
It reached more than $9.8 billion prior to the release of the final price guidance (FPG) at 4.40% for the 5-year tranche and 4.70% for 10-year tranche, representing a compression of 35 basis points (bps) and 40bps respectively.
The high quality and robust orderbook, which continued to grow post-FPG to reach $10.8 billion at reoffer, allowed the sovereign to price $1.75 billion with a yield of 4.40% for the 5-year tranche and $1.5 billion with yield of 4.70% for the 10-year tranche.
The issuance totalled $3.25 billion, the largest ever global US dollar sukuk deal in the history of the Republic of Indonesia.
HSBC, which acted as the joint bookrunner, joint lead manager and the green structuring advisor to Indonesia on the deal, has been a part of Indonesia’s forays into green sukuk since the inaugural issuance in 2018.
For the judging panel, the size and scale of this green issuance made it standout.
“The success is manifested in the scale and novelty of the instrument and to achieve this in a challenging external environment is commendable,” the panel said.
Generally, Indonesia makes a move on the sukuk market once every year, but this dual tranche marked a significant improvement on the sukuk of 2021, when the 10-year and 5-year bonds in possessed coupon levels of just 2.55% and 1.5%, respectively.
BEST M&A DEAL
Sale of Goshawk Management Limited (GML) and associated assets by Chow Tai Fook Enterprises (CTFE) and NWS Holdings (NWS)
Advisors: Citi and HSBC (joint financial advisors), Clifford Chance (legal advisor), Deacons (legal advisor)
Aviation deals are complex in a normal operating environment; add Covid-19 and the Russia-Ukraine conflict to the mix, and the GML sale by CTFE and NWS to Japan’s SMBC Aviation Capital was deftly navigated.
At enterprise value of $6.7 billion, the deal’s size was considerable.
Steering through volatile markets and geopolitical tensions, the deal teams and advisors worked to reduce GML’s exposure to $5 billion in net debt in an increasing interest rate environment. The judging panel responded well to a detailed submission that highlighted the deal’s intricacies.
“Aviation deals are inherently complicated, and to complete this deal in the current volatile environment is creditable. This is the best M&A deal of the year,” the panel said in its comments.
Citi and HSBC advised on the deal for over two years, providing invaluable insights on timing and investor appetite, which ultimately resulted in a favourable transaction without any financing conditions.
With the sale creating an opportunity for CTFE and NWS to redeploy capital across other investment opportunities with an improved risk-adjusted return, the banks advised the parties on concurrent investment across the Chinese logistics and property sectors.
They collaborated with overseas sector and coverage teams to maximise the investor universe, by leveraging strong client relationships.
Their deep understanding of the aviation sector played a pivotal role in negotiations and helped achieve a premium valuation when the industry was facing major headwinds.
By acquiring Goshawk, SMBC is now the largest Japanese-owned aircraft lessor and world’s second-largest aircraft lessor.
BEST PROJECT FINANCE DEAL
Smart Communications and Digitel Tower assets sale
MLAUB: BPI Capital (mandated lead arranger, underwriter and bookrunner)
This may not have been the region’s biggest deal at PHP26.9 billion ($500 million), but it appealed for the simplicity of its structure, the deftness of its execution, and for the fact that it brought together several firsts in an emerging market.
In October, one of the country’s largest telecoms providers, PLDT, formally commenced the competitive bidding process for almost 6,000 telecommunication towers owned by Smart Communications and Digitel Mobile Philippines.
The transaction comprised the sale of two portfolios of tower assets, consisting of 2,934 towers located in Luzon, and 2,973 towers located in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. It attracted local and international investors.
Enter ISOC Edotco Towers (IETI) – an independent tower company formed through a partnership between Philippines-based ISOC Holdings and Malaysian-based Edotco Group, owner of 31,500 towers throughout the Asia Pacific region – which approached Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) for a financing facility.
Acting as a one-man band, BPI was mandated lead arranger, underwriter and bookrunner for the acquisition cost of the cellular towers under a sale and leaseback arrangement.
The financing was split into a securities-lending-and-borrowing (SLB) facility of PHP24 billion and a build-to-suit (BTS) facility of PHP2.9 billion. The SLB facility aimed at financing the acquisition cost; the debt service reserve account; and tower capex. The BTS facility, meanwhile, is expected to finance the onward development and construction of the BTS towers.
The sale is value accretive to PLDT Group, enabling it to reallocate capital for deleveraging, further investment in the network, and to return cash to shareholders.
The deal represents a landmark transaction. It is the largest acquisition of Philippine assets by international investors, and is the second ever telecom tower sale and leaseback structure in the Philippines.
The result? Increased connectivity where it’s needed most: in the more remote corners of Southeast Asia’s emerging markets.
BEST PROPERTY DEAL
IGB REIT Capital RM1.2 billion medium term notes
MLAUB: Hong Leong Investment Bank (lead arranger)
CIMB Investment Bank, Hong Leong Investment Bank (joint lead managers &
Advisors: Messrs. Albar & Partners
In a transaction that represented the largest issuance of Malaysian ringgit-denominated medium-term notes secured by a megamall in Malaysia, CIMB alongside Hong Leong Investment Bank, very capably managed IGB REIT’s second tranche issuance.
The issue size of RM1.2 billion ($270 million) under the market’s MTN programme with a nominal value of up to RM5 billion, made it stand out from among the contenders in this category.
“The execution was commendable with an impressive orderbook put together in a very speedy and decisive manner,” judges said. “Difficult situations in Malaysia, coupled with uncertain economic outlook globally, made the deal even more complicated.”
Announced on August 10, 2022, indicative interest exceeded RM1.5 billion within a week. This built steadily to well over RM1.7 billion over the following week, prompting the issuer to move decisively to price the transaction on September 2, 2022.
Robust demand made for a final orderbook of RM1.92 billion, translating to a 1.6-times cover. The deal eventually closed at 5-year MGS+75 bps, significantly lower than the spread in 2017 (90 bps).
Amid the backdrop of a looming economic slowdown caused by geopolitical tensions and interest rate hikes, the banks’ dedicated multi-disciplinary capital markets teams displayed the kind of market acumen that is building regional reputation.
Ultimately, the transaction successfully closed with allocations to a diversified investor pool comprising insurance companies, financial institutions, corporates and government agencies.
Overall, a deft marketing strategy allowed the issuer to close this resounding transaction, bookended by two successive major rate hikes in the US and Malaysia.
BEST VENTURE CAPITAL/PRIVATE EQUITY DEAL
Cornerstone Investment in SenseTime (ahead of Hong Kong IPO)
MLAUB: China International Capital, Haitong International Securities Group, HSBC (joint sponsors of the IPO)
Advisors: Han Kun Law Offices
As one of the leading Chinese artificial intelligence companies, SenseTime has garnered a lot of attention – not least because it was blacklisted by the United States, barring US firms from investing in it.
Chinese IPOs often have political undertones that make them challenging to have as clients.
“While SenseTime shares have fallen almost 50% after lock-up expired, hindsight is always 20/20,” the FA judging panel said.
“This huge deal had its difficulties, intricacies and nuances right from the beginning and based on that premise, the deal advisory leading to the eventual cornerstone investment deserves a podium finish for this award category.”
Immediately after the blacklisting, leading mainland Chinese investors, including the state-backed, mixed-ownership reform fund, the Shanghai AI Fund, stepped into the frame.
The dogged commitment of Han Kun to advise the fund on a $512 million cornerstone investment in SenseTime ahead of the firm’s Hong Kong IPO at the end of 2021, caught the attention of judges who admired the law firm’s skilful handling in a difficult situation.
The listing went ahead as planned despite political challenges. The start-up raised $740 million at launch and priced its shares at HK$3.85 ($0.49) each, at the bottom of the range, valuing SenseTime at $16.4 billion.
The gains on debut bucked analyst expectation that the shares would slip or trade flat due to the relative weak demand during the IPO process.
Han Kun was heavily and fully involved in all aspects of the transaction, from legal due diligence, documentation, negotiation and the closing process, to assisting the client in successful close of one of the largest pre-IPO investment deals in China’s artificial intelligence industry.