In December our editors selected the best deals and houses in Australia and New Zealand from an all-star line-up of nominees in each of the 25 categories.The winning houses were the most prolific in their fields, holding a large share of the market and structuring complex deals. We congratulate the winners for their efforts.
BEST LOCAL COMMERCIAL BANK
ANZ remains focused on structuring innovative financing solutions for customers while also helping them with transactional banking and trade finance. A new strategy for its Asia franchise implemented by chief executive Shayne Elliott has benefited corporate and institutional customers with cross-border businesses. The bank also continues to push the boundaries on providing long-dated loans to clients to suit their asset profiles. Its position as a leading provider of debt to the corporate sector gives the bank considerable visibility and understanding of market behaviour and pricing. ANZ doesn’t shy away from running sole domestic bank mandates and it continues to develop innovative trade services solutions with a digital edge.
BEST FOREIGN COMMERCIAL BANK
Standing undefeated in this category, 73% of Citi’s customers have a cross-product relationship with the bank. Corporate customers remain loyal to Citi for its multi-product platform covering bank debt, structured finance, debt capital market capabilities in Australia and the US, debt advisory, transactional banking, foreign exchange, and commodities. In 2017 its treasury and trade solutions team implemented one of Australia’s largest corporate travel card programmes across 11,000 cardholders including moving the client from paper applications to 100% online straight through processing. Customers consistently rank the bank highly for sound advice, prompt follow-up, and effective senior management support.
BEST INVESTMENT BANK
UBS placed first on both the M&A and equity capital markets league tables in 2017, according to Dealogic. Its achievements in equities were particularly stellar with the bank holding a 24% market share and playing a bookrunner role on 41 transactions with a total value of A$5.3 billion ($4.19 billion). UBS executed secondary sizeable market trades for Woodside Petroleum, Downer, Nufarm, and Qube, while also acting as join lead manager on Netwealth’s A$264 million initial pubic offering (see Best IPO Deal). In M&A the bank helped to orchestrate the third and final sale of electricity assets in New South Wales with the A$7.4 billion lease of Endeavour Energy.
BEST INVESTMENT BANK — NEW ZEALAND
Forsyth Barr accelerated its growth in deal flow in 2017, executing 33 transactions with a total value of NZ$3.2 billion ($2.3 billion). By far its most successful franchise is equity capital markets in which it held a 51% market share, according to Dealogic figures. The bank played a role in the largest ECM deal of the year with the NZ$238 million Metlifecare block trade and acted as joint arranger on the first significant convertible note issue since 2009 with Precinct Properties’ NZ$150 million transaction. On the debt side Forsyth Barr had roles on the NZ$307 million capital bond rollover for Vector and the NZ$225m bond issue for Genesis Energy.
CORPORATE ISSUER OF THE YEAR
Privatised in December 2016, Ausgrid has spent the past 12 months making its name as a savvy issuer in the capital markets. In August the electricity distributor executed the largest-ever US private placement for an Australian company at $1.89 billion. The final print size was over six times larger than the initial target of $300 million and included three maturities and a total of seven tranches. In October, Ausgrid followed this success with a jumbo A$1.2 billion fixed and floating rate note in the domestic market. The deal achieved the tightest pricing for a BBB seven-year deal since the global financial crisis at 122 basis points over three-month Bank Bill Swap Rates.
FINANCIAL ISSUER OF THE YEAR
Latitude Financial Services
Latitude was created when GE Capital sold its Australia and New Zealand consumer finance businesses in 2015 to a consortium led by Deutsche Bank, Varde Management, and KKR. In 2017 the company earned its capital markets stripes with three transactions that caught our attention, including a first-ever credit card ABS that has won our Most Innovative Deal and Best Debt Finance Deal of the year (see below). The successful execution of this inaugural transaction allowed Latitude to price a club-style follow-on issuance in August 2017 raising A$500 million and extending the tenor of the notes to five-years.
BEST EQUITY HOUSE
UBS acted as sole lead on more equity deals than any other investment bank during a year dominated by two themes – acquisition finance and growth funding. The bank worked alone on entitlement offers for Downer (A$1 billion), Qube (A$350 million), and WorleyParsons (A$322 million). UBS continues to provide innovative structures aimed at the fair treatment of shareholders, while also ensuring successful pricing outcomes for issuers. It employs an award-winning team of 50 analysts covering over 250 stocks across the Australian market and holds a number one position in trading on the Australian Securities Exchange.
BEST M&A HOUSE
Advising on some of the largest and most complex takeovers of 2017, Goldman Sachs reclaims our Best M&A House award after a two-year hiatus. The firm advised Tatts Group on a A$11.3 billion scheme of arrangement merger with rival Tabcorp, which finally closed in December after 14 months of legwork. It also acted for Yancoal Australia on its acquisition of Coal & Allied Industries from Rio Tinto and acted for a private equity consortium led by Goldman, QIC, and Pagoda in its purchase of cancer treatment provider Icon. The bank’s year was marked by a strong track record executing deals in the healthcare sector.
BEST LOCAL BOND HOUSE
While National Australia Bank executed more local bonds in the market during the year, Westpac’s had a higher value and included a mega transaction for the Australian government (see our Best Local Bond Deal), a tightly priced subordinated note for AMP Capital, and the largest-ever US private placement for a local issuer in Ausgrid’s $1.89 billion deal. It led more than A$30 billion in issuance for financial institutions – more than any other arranger – and acted as sole lead on Visy’s landmark institutional placement in which the unrated packaging and recycling company raised A$150 million in 10-year bills.
BEST INTERNATIONAL BOND HOUSE
Running neck and neck on the league tables with JP Morgan, the winner of our Best International Bond House is Citi for its role on three significant corporate deals in 2017. It ran inaugural public Reg-S transactions for Santos, Newcastle Coal, and Boral, allowing the companies to refinance existing higher-cost US and euro debt or pay down acquisition finance. Citi also played a key role in Westpac’s first offshore Tier 1 capital deal in over a decade and the only Australian bank AT1 transaction in SEC-registered format. The bank also maintains a strong relationship with the sovereign, acting as joint lead manager on five of the past six multi-billion-dollar treasury bond transactions.
BEST GREEN BOND HOUSE
A new category in this year’s awards line-up, ANZ takes the gong for its role in the longest and largest green bond issued by an Australian entity – Queensland Treasury Corporation in March – and property fund Investa’s clever first deal in April. At A$750 million the QTC deal highlighted the potential depth of the Australian market for such instruments. More than 75% of the bonds were distributed to Australian accounts, primarily domestic asset managers with internal ESG frameworks. The Investa deal, meanwhile, was oversubscribed within two hours of launch and priced at the tight end of its targeted range.
BEST DEBT FINANCE HOUSE
National Australia Bank
National Australia Bank’s grip over structured debt and securitisation markets was reinforced in 2017 by a pair of outstanding deals for IFM Global Infrastructure Fund (a US$2.5 billion syndicated acquisition facility with a unique net asset value structure) and Latitude Finance (a A$1 billion credit card loan note with an innovative master trust structure and the first ABS backed by credit card and sales finance receivables). NAB was involved in nearly 90% of all securitisation transactions during the year and also turned its expertise to niche debt finance challenges such as a A$28 million three-year Islamic financing facility for the construction of an aged care home.
BEST FINANCIAL LAW FIRM
Herbert Smith Freehills
Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) spent 2017 supporting its clients on some of the market’s biggest, most complex, and cutting-edge transactions. Our judges liked the firm’s work on Yancoal’s acquisition of Coal & Allied and subsequent fundraising, Origin Energy’s A$1.58 billion sale of Lattice Energy, and Tabcorp’s A$11 billion merger with Tatts Group, which involved a federal court judicial review. HSF also advised Netwealth on its successful initial public offering in a year marked by low deal flow. The firm helped to create a novel structure that allowed the company to make the offer directly to financial planners and other clients via a special Netwealth Platform.