FinanceAsia’s 2018 Achievement Awards in Australia and New Zealand were hotly contested and we announced the winners in December.
Overall, we received more than 85 submissions for the 24 different awards categories.
The following houses are commended for their involvement in the key transactions of the year – transactions which were large, cleverly structured and set a benchmark for future issuance. They showed tenacity by timing the market well and appealing to investor demand.
BEST LOCAL COMMERCIAL BANK
It was a tough year for Australia’s commercial banks as a parliamentary inquiry into the financial services sector shone a spotlight on misconduct in the industry. Westpac kept its powder relatively dry, adapting to market trends and focusing on supporting its customers with execution certainty. On the credit front, Westpac continued to provide end-to-end arranging and underwriting of loan facilities to its institutional customers as well as structured and asset finance across diverse asset classes such as trade receivables, residential, non-conforming, and reverse and small ticket commercial mortgages. We also commend Westpac for continuing to leverage its Asian distribution capabilities for both Asian corporates and Australian clients wanting to borrow in the region.
BEST FOREIGN COMMERCIAL BANK
More than 75% of Citi’s clients have a multi-product relationship with the bank across three product sets – transactional banking, markets and capital markets. Citi had a particularly strong year in debt advisory and acquisition finance, helping corporate clients such as Speedcast refinance existing bank facilities with a $425 million Term Loan B and $100 million revolving credit facility. It also worked with Macquarie on the restructuring of its aircraft leasing business worth $3 billion. In 2018 Citi distributed more than $1.9 billion in US dollar-denominated bonds for Australian non-bank mortgage lenders. And the bank still has the largest reach for treasury and trade services solutions, and foreign exchange activity.
BEST INVESTMENT BANK
A perennial winner in this category, UBS had an outstanding year in 2018, placing first on Dealogic’s league tables for equity capital markets and M&A advisory. The bank’s share of the equity market was almost double its nearest competitor in dollar terms, which is why it also collected our Best Equity House award this year. In the M&A arena, our judges were impressed with UBS’s role as financial adviser to Sirtex Medical, Westfield Corporation and Sydney Transport Partners on their respective deals. If UBS could find a way to lift its DCM franchise a notch, the bank would be almost unstoppable.
BEST INVESTMENT BANK — NEW ZEALAND
DeutscheCraigs leads its New Zealand business with a strong equity and debt capital markets franchise, and while it doesn’t always top the league tables in overall volumes, its name is on most significant transactions. The 50/50 partnership between the German behemoth and local investment house Craigs delivered outstanding results in 2018, with secondary offerings for Pushpay, Gentrack and Oceania Healthcare, and sizeable bond issues for Infratil, Genesis Energy and Chorus – the latter being one of the largest issuances by a New Zealand corporate since 2009. On the M&A front, the bank acted as sole financial adviser to Bounty Fresh on its NZ$588 million takeover of poultry producer Tegel.
CORPORATE ISSUER OF THE YEAR
ASX-listed Sydney Airport issued two landmark bond transactions in 2018 – a €500 million 10-year euro bond in April and a dual currency multi-tranche US private placement deal in October. The latter had ultra-long maturities of 15, 20, 25 and 30 years. A series of carefully planned global investor calls, one-on-one meetings and a three-and-a-half day roadshow to the US meant that both transactions attracted strong interest. The euro order book totalled €2.3 billion, while the USPP book was four times oversubscribed with over A$1.2 billion of interest in Australian dollar terms. Sydney Airport met with limited price sensitivity in the process and priced inside guidance on both deals.
FINANCIAL ISSUER OF THE YEAR
National Australia Bank
National Australia Bank is commended for its issuance in the green and sustainable space in 2018, acting as sole arranger on a A$2 billion residential mortgage-backed deal with CBI-certified notes, and A$200 million worth of Climate Bond certified project bonds – a new structure established to enable investor participation in NAB’s renewable energy loan portfolio. Our judges were also impressed with NAB’s €2 billion dual-tranche 5-year green and 10-year senior unsecured bond transaction into the euro market – the largest Australian euro senior deal since November 2009. Transactions like these pave the way for other issuers to incorporate green tranches in future deals.
BEST EQUITY HOUSE
UBS played a lead role in three of the largest deals in the review period for 2018 – a A$4.2 billion equity raising for Transurban, a A$2.5 billion accelerated placement for Woodside Petroleum, and a A$2.9 billion entitlement offer for WorleyParsons. The primary markets were slow relative to previous years and yet UBS executed two significant IPOs for Viva Energy and Coronado Coal. In equities trading, it held a 14% share of all turnover on the Australian Securities Exchange, executing A$428 billion of trades in the first 11 months of the year. UBS has 40 analysts covering over 200 stocks and is consistently recognised in independent surveys of fund managers as the best broking house in Australia.
BEST M&A HOUSE
In a year of mega cross-border transactions, the Goldman name appeared across the board on announced and completed transactions, particularly in the resources and infrastructure sectors. It advised on four of the largest M&A deals during the review period including BHP’s sale of PetroHawk Energy, Wesfarmers’ demerger of its Coles business and the NSW Government’s sale of a 51% stake in WestConnex to the Transurban consortium. It was adviser to Unibail-Rodamco on its cross-border acquisition of Westfield Corporation at an enterprise value of $25 billion – undoubtedly the largest M&A in Australia’s history. Clearly, Goldman’s global reach coupled with the expertise of its local team makes it a trusted partner for companies wanting to do large-scale mergers.
BEST LOCAL BOND HOUSE
Australia’s domestic banks finished the year neck-and-neck on the local currency debt league tables but ANZ held the lion’s share of corporate issuance. The bank played a lead arranger role on Virgin Australia’s A$150 million high-yield 5NC3 bond which made it the first sub-investment grade issuer (rated B2/B+) to raise local currency in the medium-term note market; and a debut issue for Port of Melbourne, the largest single tranche Australian dollar corporate transaction of 2018 with order books reaching in excess of A$700 million within a few hours. Our judges also liked ANZ’s role in Suncorp’s A$699 million subordinated note deal.
BEST INTERNATIONAL BOND HOUSE
Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Rising to the top of a strong list of competitors, Bank of America Merrill Lynch won this award for its role in a couple of key transactions in 2018 including a €500 million 10-yr senior secured bond for Sydney Airport in April which attracted €2.3 billion in orders. Our judges also liked the $2.5 billion dual-tranche senior unsecured deal for Westpac which leveraged a peak order book of $5.5 billion, and strong interest from Asian and European state and agency funds, to result in tighter pricing. Bank of America Merrill Lynch also led successful US dollar deals for Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Macquarie and Transurban Queensland.
BEST DEBT FINANCE HOUSE
National Australia Bank
National Australia Bank has a reputation in the debt markets for its innovative structuring, distribution and execution capabilities. In 2018, NAB acted as arranger and joint lead manager on 29 local securitisation transactions and bookrunner on over $5 billion equivalent of syndicated loan issuance. The bank delivered the world’s first Australian dollar residential mortgage-backed securities with a Climate Bond certified green tranche, and acted as mandated lead arranger on the Southern Hemisphere’s largest wind farm transaction, raising A$680 million for Stockyard Hill Wind Farm. Lastly, our judges noted NAB’s role in a landmark A$1.7 billion subscription facility to fund the acquisition of the Victorian Land Titles and Registry Office.
BEST SUSTAINABLE FINANCE HOUSE
ANZ is leading the way in creating a socially responsible and sustainable capital market in Australia. The bank has a stated target of funding and facilitating at least A$15 billion in low-carbon and sustainable solutions by October 2020 and, by September 30 last year, had already reached A$11.5 billion in commitments. In 2018, ANZ arranged in excess of A$3.6 billion in green and sustainability bonds including a A$1.8 billion 10-year Climate Bond certified fixed rate senior note for New South Wales Treasury Corporation, and an inaugural A$125 million three-year floating rate sustainability bond for Bank Australia. Proceeds from both transactions will be used to finance or refinance assets that promote the transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient future.
BEST FINANCIAL LAW FIRM
Herbert Smith Freehills
Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) continues to bring its market knowledge to bear for clients, advising on more M&A, equity and project finance transactions in Australia than its rivals in 2018. The firm played a role in several mega corporate finance deals including advising Wesfarmers on the A$20 billion demerger of Coles group, and Amcor on its $6.8 billion acquisition of Bemis. In the equities market HSF advised WorleyParsons on a A$2.9 billion entitlement offer to fund the acquisition of Jacobs ECR, and Woodside Petroleum on its A$2.5 billion equity raising.