Top of the league
In a treacherous year for Asia’s loan market, one bank stood out with its courageous calls, sole mandates and well-distributed deals. For its leadership throughout the crisis, Standard Chartered is IFR’s Asia-Pacific Loan House of the Year.
Standard Chartered stepped up its focus on distribution in 2020, weathering the Covid-19 crisis with a series of bold calls that showcased its ability to read the market.
The pandemic hit Asia’s syndicated loan market hard, as nervous banks pulled back liquidity to focus on managing their existing portfolios and supporting core clients.
StanChart’s commitment to its clients and ability to underwrite crucial financings won it an unrivalled list of sole mandates in 2020. It also managed its risk through innovative syndication strategies, careful structuring and market-driven pricing, resisting temptations to grab market share that had cost the bank dearly in the wake of the 2008 crisis.
“We have been innovative, we have been bold, navigating through the challenges that the pandemic presented by swiftly adapting our business to the changing market backdrop, leading the way with origination intensity, smart risk-taking and distribution strength,” said Cristian Jonsson, StanChart’s global head of loan syndications and global head of the capital structuring & distribution group.
StanChart took a bold underwriting position on a US$1.295bn loan for Chinese travel booking site Trip.com – when much of China was in lockdown – and worked hard to bring in other lenders despite a dismal outlook for the tourism industry.
After a long sell-down, which allowed other lenders to study Trip.com’s updated financials, the deal closed with a syndicate of 14 banks and StanChart reduced its exposure to less than 10% of the final size.
StanChart impressed with other Chinese borrowers, winning over a dozen sole mandates and leading seven debut deals during IFR’s awards period – even as most of its international peers shied away from taking on more risk.
Among the sole mandates was a Rmb2.84bn-equivalent (US$440m) onshore/offshore loan for the acquisition of a portfolio of seven logistics warehouses by a fund jointly financed by Chinese e-commerce company JD.com and Singapore’s GIC. It also led a US$407m-equivalent three-year loan for investment manager Nuveen’s refinancing of an outlet mall in China’s Tianjin city and a US$300m three-year debut financing in December 2019 for state-owned China Metallurgical Group’s subsidiary MCC Ramu Nico in Papua New Guinea.
StanChart played a crucial role in structuring financings across Asia. In India, the bank was sole underwriter on a Rs28bn (US$378m) one-year syndicated loan for Tata Teleservices that was structured to offer a competitive alternative to the bond market, with a monthly reset and around 1% lower pricing on a blended basis.
It was also joint underwriter on a US$600m loan for an LNG terminal project sponsored by India’s Adani Group and France’s Total, which attracted 14 other lenders, and one of the original mandated lead arrangers, bookrunners and underwriters on India’s biggest leveraged buyout loan – a US$600m facility for Baring Private Equity Asia’s buyout of IT solutions provider Hexaware Technologies.
StanChart showed its adaptability with a US$1.595bn-equivalent financing for commodities trader Trafigura, Asia’s first syndicated loan with a defined Covid-19 premium. StanChart was one of two joint bookrunners on the deal, which closed in October with 22 other banks joining.
“We have led with conviction, countering the slowdown in market activity by leveraging our strong market read to bring to market a number of transactions, including several sole-led deals, providing solutions and funding certainty to our clients when they needed it most,” said Amit Lakhwani, StanChart’s head of loan syndicate & distribution for Asia-Pacific.
StanChart featured prominently on some of the most popular deals of the year, including a US$1bn borrowing for state-owned Bank Rakyat Indonesia that attracted 23 lenders, a US$740m-equivalent five-year loan for Trans Retail Indonesia that drew 18 banks and a US$700m three-year loan for Sarana Multi Infrastruktur that saw 19 lenders joining.
It also helped develop the green and sustainability-linked market as sole lead on loans for private equity firm KKR’s Solar Edge Power and Energy in India and joint green loan adviser on a S$945.3m (US$701m) five-year financing backing the acquisition of the DUO complex in Singapore.
StanChart also helped arrange a US$333m green loan for SB Energy Holdings in India, as well as a US$185m green loan for EcoGreen International Group and a US$250m SLL for Olam International.
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