Against all expectations, 2014 proved to be a record-setting year for the Asian capital markets.
International bond sales soared over 30% in 2014, with more than US$200bn raised from Asia, excluding Japan and Australasia. One single PRC firm produced the world’s largest IPO on record, as well as Asia’s biggest US dollar bond, helping Chinese technology companies sell a record volume of shares in the US market. Dim Sum and Kangaroo bond issues each hit new highs, and the world’s two biggest international issues of Additional Tier 1 bank capital also emerged from Asia. Many other deals surpassed expectations during the year.
More important than these individual records, however, is what they say about Asia’s continued development.
The fact that so many of 2014’s landmark issues came from this region is a powerful sign of Asia’s growing presence in the global capital markets.
Alibaba’s world-record IPO, followed up with a jumbo bond, proved that Asia’s home-grown champions can stand shoulder to shoulder with the world’s biggest and best-known companies. While a Hong Kong listing for Alibaba may have revealed more about the strength of the Asian investor base, other issuers did just that, notably Bank of China, which completed its world-record bank capital offering with little help from Western investors.
The firepower of the region’s investors was evident across the board, with Dim Sum bond volumes gaining ground again in 2014, despite a shakeout of international speculators early in the year, and a record number of international issuers rushing to sell bonds in Australia.
The deals and institutions featured in these pages are testament to the growing maturity of Asia’s financial markets. Many of this year’s award winners stood out for the sheer scale of their achievements, putting themselves – and the region – on par with their global peers. Others pushed the boundaries to open new markets, introduce new products, or improve on existing standards.
This puts Asia in a strong position going into 2015, even at a time when US rate hikes are looming large on the horizon. Another record year for bond issues may seem unlikely, but, in all likelihood, Asia will continue to enjoy strong support from global investors, with economic growth running well ahead of Western countries and accommodative monetary policies still in place in Europe and Japan.
With a combination of innovation and critical mass now in place, it is clear that Asian issuers will continue to deliver ground-breaking and significant financings again in 2015 – whatever happens elsewhere.
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