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 Regional Deal Awards category.
BEST OF CHINA
BeiGene’s $3.5 billion STAR Market initial public offering
The superlatives made for a long list with a launch of this scale and calibre.
It was the first STAR Market IPO sponsored by a US investment bank; the first to involve a STAR market, HKEX and NASDAQ triple-listed biotech company; the largest healthcare IPO in 2021 YTD, and the largest STAR Market IPO in 2021 YTD.
The list of names behind the launch was equally impressive. Goldman Sachs Gao Hua (GS) acted as joint sponsor and joint bookrunner alongside CICC, while JP Morgan Securities, CITIC Securities and Guotai Junan Securities were joint bookrunners. Fangda Partners was the advisor on this IPO.
“GS performed well with this first triple-listed biotech company and executed the deal meeting expectations for such a global scale projects,” judges said of the submission.
This deal priced at an 11% premium (versus November 29 Hong Kong close) on the back of strong demand, and marked the sixth equity financing deal GS has led for BeiGene.
GS has now worked on all three BeiGene IPOs (NASDAQ, HKEX and STAR Market) and all BeiGene equity financings.
As a a global, commercial-stage biotechnology company focussed on discovering, developing, manufacturing, and commercialising innovative medicines, BeiGene has more than 40 medicines and drug candidates in commercial stage or clinical development. This includes more than 10 approved and 30 more at a clinical stage, covering tumours, inflammations, autoimmune and infectious diseases.
Hopes are now high that the Chinese biotech firm will deliver more ground-breaking medicines globally.
Brukinsa is the first Chinese internally developed oncology medicine approved and granted Breakthrough Therapy status by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and has received 12 approvals covering 40 countries and regions.
Collaborations with world-leading biopharmaceutical and biotech companies include the likes of Amgen, Novartis and BMS. Stay tuned.
BEST OF HONG KONG SAR
Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK) issuance of $1 billion green notes and $3 billion conventional notes
Complex, well-timed and nimble in its execution, this $4 billion deal by the Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK) racked up an impressive list of firsts: the largest ever debut corporate ESG bond in Hong Kong and Asia Pacific; largest bond issuance from a Hong Kong issuer since Covid-19; largest bond issuance for an airport operator globally – to name just a few.
This was a standout submission that dazzled judges from the outset.
“A prominent deal that broke multiple records on various fronts, it was executed with precision in what is perceived as a difficult and uncertain sector during the post-pandemic period,” the judges said.
This comes as hardly surprising when looking at the cast of global banks involved in the transaction, as lenders and advisors.
A granular examination of the deal’s execution shows just how well it was put together in a challenging environment. Setting the stage for such a large and ambitious transaction, therefore, was key.
Given the sensitive nature of AAHK for ESG-oriented investors, the sustainability structuring advisors hosted a non-deal roadshow for AAHK to speak to key ESG opinion leaders globally.
With the framework completed in November 2021, the coordinators helped AAHK monitor markets closely to find an opportune window. As Asian primary markets weakened towards year-end, AAHK wisely decided to wait for more favourable market conditions in January 2022, instead.
Heavy supply from sovereigns, quasi-sovereigns and corporates began building up and the joint global coordinators recommended that AAHK announce the deal on the first day back from the New Year’s holiday in a bid to get ahead of competing supply.
With significant indications of interest (IOI) collected by the Tuesday, the deal was announced on the Wednesday morning as a 5-, 10- and 30-year transaction with potential for a 40-year tranche. This gave AAHK the option to access an ultra-long part of the curve.
The US dollar orderbook grew to over $4.4 billion within the first hour and was over two times over-subscribed before lunch, supported by large tickets from high-quality investors.
The size and quality of the orderbook ultimately allowed AAHK to compress pricing for the 5, 10, 30 and 40-year tranches by 37.5bps, 30bps, 25bps and 30bps, respectively.
Demand for the longer end exceeded issuer expectations and AAHK decided to take advantage of attractive funding costs to maximise tenor, upsizing the 30 and 40-year tranches.
The 5-year green tranche, meanwhile, saw the largest degree of price tightening and ultimately printed inside AAHK’s curve, while the 10-year tranche was the most popular with investors.
“This transaction really deserved a podium finish,” judges concluded.
BEST OF THE FRONTIER MARKETS - JOINT WINNER
EVNFinance Green Bond
By definition, frontier markets are at the furthest edges of any acceptable investment horizon, beyond which markets are no longer suitable for investment.
Making investors confident that the investment is worth the risk requires skill and coordination. This deal – EVNFinance’s $75 million green bond – displayed both of these qualities.
“This local debt financing arrangement in a difficult situation (i.e. economy and country) coupled with the product (i.e. green bonds) in Vietnam is commendable and deserves to be highlighted for such initiatives,” our panel said.
With Vietcombank Securities (VCBS) as lead arranger and bond offering dossier advisor; and Allen & Overy Vietnam as legal advisor for the guarantor, this innovative $75 million (VND1.725 trillion) issuance achieved various landmarks, opening a new frontier for the local currency bond market.
As the first-ever onshore, local currency, internationally verified green bond, it set the standard for green investments in Vietnam’s government-owned and private sectors. Prior to this, there had not been any internationally certified green bonds issued by any entity in Vietnam.
It was also the first-ever partially guaranteed corporate bond in the country to attract international institutional investors, including Manulife and AIA. Prior to this, no other guaranteed transaction achieved less than a 100% guarantee. The deal marked the first time that institutional investors accepted a 66% guarantee.
The move to a partial structure demonstrated a high degree of investor confidence in guarantor GuarantCo’s strong credentials in credit and active transaction monitoring, as well as EVNFinance’s credit, and the Vietnamese market as a whole.
“As one of the anchor investors in this transaction, we have been leveraging our strong relationship with GuarantCo to collaborate closely with them on structuring the deal in support of the long-term sustainability financing in Vietnam,” said Sang Hui Lee, chief executive officer of Manulife Vietnam.
“This is the first partial guaranteed transaction and local currency green bond for us in Vietnam.”
As far as investors are concerned, this landmark deal offers just a taste of things to come.
BEST OF THE FRONTIER MARKETS - JOINT WINNER
The Ministry of Finance of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic’s THB5 billion Thai baht bond issuance through a new THB10 billion MTN programme
With commercial banks generally fighting shy of BBB/BBB- rated transactions, which is typically a space dominated by securities companies, advisors Twin Pine Group assisted the Ministry of Finance of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (MOFL) in approaching Thai securities companies with fixed-income business in early 2021.
Thanks to a media blitz and constructive dialogue throughout 2021, Twin Pine Group was able to build confidence such that selected securities companies joined the consortium. The key challenge was to provide consistent response to counter the negative portrayal of Laos, which continued to circulate on social media.
Ultimately, MOFL managed to engage seven securities firms as joint lead arrangers who worked with Twin Pine to broaden the investor base. This included arranging a letter drop to existing bondholders, SMS messaging and direct calls via arrangers.
By extensively publicising the transaction through selected media and online social media platforms, MOFL was successful in persuading old investors to join for the new issuance, while at the same time attracting new investor groups.
By targeting high net worth investors (HNWI), MOFL connected with a new group of arrangers to support future fundraising.
With additional demand of up to THB1 billion ($29,805) from one significant corporate investor towards the end of the process, MOFL also was able to upsize.
It raised THB5 billion, the largest amount achieved between November 2021 and October 2022 among comparable BBB-/negative outlook peers in the same period.
BEST OF NORTHEAST ASIA
LG Energy Solution’s $10 billion initial public offering
LG Energy Solution is the largest producer of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries; as of the 3Q21, it held 24% of global, 44% of European and 29% of US market share.
With GS at the helm of this launch, there was little room for anything other than superlatives. In terms of the deal size, LG Energy Solution’s IPO was the largest in South Korean history, and the largest ever IPO globally in the battery sector.
It priced shares to raise 12.75 trillion won ($10.7 billion). At 300,000 won apiece, the shares were priced at the top of the marketed range, giving the battery maker a valuation of about $59 billion, ranking it the third-biggest company on the benchmark Kospi, behind chipmakers Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix.
The deal attracted strong interest from blue chip global investors with participation from sovereign wealth funds, long-only and technology, media, and telecommunications (TMT) investors.
A landmark IPO, it recorded the largest ever subscription rate in Korea’s capital markets history, a testament to the confidence in LG Energy Solution’s leadership in the EV battery industry.
The deal reinforced GS’ leadership position in industry-shaping IPOs, in the global EV and energy storage value chain, and in Korea’s equity capital markets.
BEST OF SOUTH ASIA
Adani’s $6.5 billion acquisition of Ambuja Cement and ACC
A nicely executed deal that delivers India its largest-ever acquisition transaction in the infrastructure and materials space, it also highlighted strong capabilities by Barclays – which acted as buy-side advisor to Adani Group – in leading Asia-leveraged finance.
The binding agreement with Holcim meant that Adani acquired its business in India comprising a 63.11% stake in Ambuja Cement, which owns a 50.05% interest in ACC, as well as its 4.48% direct stake in ACC.
Adani acquired Holcim’s full stakes in Ambuja Cement and ACC for $6.5 billion. The transaction saw Adani launch an open offer in both Ambuja and ACC, resulting in a total deal size of approximately $10.5 billion at a 100% acceptance ratio.
The financing was split into a $500 million six-month tranche (facility A), a $3 billion 18-month loan (facility B), a $1 billion two-year mezzanine portion (facility C), and a $750 million share-backed financing (facility D).
Ambuja Cement and ACC are two of India’s leading cement companies and, together, are amongst the only two pan-India players in Indian cement Industry. They have a diversified manufacturing footprint of 31 plants across India and an extensive pan-India network of 20,000-plus dealers and 85,000-plus channel partners.
As India’s largest-ever infrastructure and materials transaction, the acquisition complements Adani’s diversified infrastructure portfolio and paves the way to backward and forward integration.
BEST OF SOUTHEAST ASIA
Government of Singapore’s inaugural S$2.4 billion 50-year green bond deal
As well as setting an example to its peers in the region – demonstrating how they can mitigate potential pricing challenges – the sovereign issuance also serves to strengthen market standards on disclosure and transparency.
The issuance was the longest dated in the green bond space in APAC, and joint-longest globally.
Judges were also impressed by the sheer courage of the tenor. The curve extension was a bold step against the backdrop of global market volatility – no sovereign had yet tested 30 years for a green note.
There was strong investor demand, with a combined placement orderbook of more than $5.3 billion, or 2.26-times the size of the amount offered. Strong participation came from high-quality real money investors with 84% allocated to fund managers, central banks, and insurance companies.
It was the first time that the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) issued a bond via syndication process, which involved the appointment of bookrunners to jointly market and distribute it.
“The successful launch of Singapore’s inaugural sovereign green bond marks an important milestone in our sustainability journey,” said Leong Sing Chiong, deputy managing director for markets and development at the MAS.
“The strong orderbook affirms investors’ confidence in the government’s plans to build green infrastructure for a financially and environmentally sustainable future. The extension of the sovereign yield curve to 50 years will further develop the Singapore dollar bond market and support longer-tenor corporate issuances,” he added.
With proceeds dedicated to long-term infrastructure projects in clean transportation, the issuance puts Singapore on the ESG front foot regionally.