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IFR’s Global Awards umbrella has expanded over the years. If the London event – that is entering its 20th year in 2015 – captures global capital markets activity, events in New York and Hong Kong and now Dubai celebrate the best of banking across the Middle East, the US, Canada, Latin America and throughout Asia.
In 2013, Middle East capital markets showed distinct signs of maturing, across debt and equity capital markets, which made it the perfect year to introduce the regional awards which are presented in this yearbook.
In DCM, conventional and Islamic markets took advantage of solid technical issuing conditions and improving economic sentiment towards the region, as well as its status as something of a safe haven in a sea of EM volatility, to push innovation and diversity to the fore.
Gulf issuers were able to access diverse pools of capital across currencies and throughout the world. They tapped the long end, they issued in size, they pushed the structuring envelope to produce some memorable financings; we saw bank capital issuance, the first corporate hybrids as well as some major project bonds as components of large-scale infrastructure project financings, while a more diversified range of private sector issuers emerged from debut sectors.
In the equity space, the region produced some noteworthy trades, with Asiacell Communications’ US$1.28bn IPO out of Iraq providing a high point as the region’s largest ECM deal of the year. It’s clear that the region’s top corporates can compete head-to-head with the world’s brightest and best in their chosen markets. This was evident during 2013.
Beyond the deal flow, the Middle East continues to develop its market infrastructure and continues to make moves towards standardisation and regulatory harmonisation. Authorities in the region are focusing more squarely on facilitating access to capital markets for corporates as a key tool for growth. Typical of the initiatives in play is International Islamic Financial Market’s moves to develop standard contract templates for sukuk. That should enable Islamic issuance to evolve further. Similarly, Dubai’s bid to develop into an anchor for Islamic capital markets will ensure this is a focus into 2014 and beyond.
The Middle East has earned its place at the global capital markets table. IFR’s inaugural Middle East yearbook shows why.