As the pandemic continued to hold sway, Standard Chartered set itself apart with its sharp focus, leadership and navigation of challenging market conditions. For winning several sole mandates, underwriting event-driven financings and well-distributed deals, the bank is IFR’s Asia-Pacific Loan House of the Year.
Standard Chartered began the year with a restructuring of its corporate finance business, absorbing the corporate finance team into the larger global credit markets business and creating three new groups with the aim of bringing all credit origination and distribution functions under one roof.
“At the start of 2021, we integrated our origination and distribution activities across corporate finance and financial markets into a single global credit markets vertical, allowing us to sharpen our delivery and offering of holistic solutions to our clients to meet their funding needs at a time when they have continued to tackle the challenges arising from the pandemic and the resultant volatility across markets,” said Cristian Jonsson, global head of financing risk, global credit markets at StanChart.
The move paid dividends as StanChart secured a number of lead roles on leveraged buyout and event-driven financings across Asia-Pacific.
For example, StanChart was sole bookrunner on a S$450m (US$339m) debut loan in April that formed part of a S$1bn debt package for the merger between Singlife and Aviva Singapore – the largest insurance M&A deal in Singapore.
StanChart also impressed with its lead roles in India, where LBO loans jumped to a record high as private equity firms shifted their focus to the country as a counter to a slowdown in China.
The bank was one of two lead-left arrangers with the largest underwrites on India’s biggest LBO loan – a US$817.9m financing backing Blackstone’s acquisition of IT provider Mphasis. It was also among the four top-tier banks that committed larger underwrites on a US$570m loan for Baring Private Equity Asia’s LBO of the healthcare services division of Hinduja Global Solutions. In addition, StanChart was one of six banks that provided a US$1bn bridge-to-bond financing to support The Carlyle Group’s LBO of IT firm Hexaware Technologies.
“We focused our origination efforts on identifying the sectors that were largely insulated from the impact of Covid-19 and structured distribution-led solutions across onshore as well as offshore, US dollar and Indian rupees,” said Amit Lakhwani, StanChart’s head of loan syndicate and distribution for Asia-Pacific. “We were extremely active in the financial sponsor-led leveraged finance space, which was the big driver of market activity during the year.”
Undeterred by increasing competition from Chinese lenders willing to provide aggressive terms, StanChart maintained its focus as an active bookrunner in event-driven financings in China and Hong Kong, successfully underwriting and syndicating several landmark transactions.
In Hong Kong, StanChart was sole underwriter on a HK$5.29bn (US$681m) green loan backing the buyout of 1111 King's Road by a Gaw Capital Partners-led consortium. The bank offered a pre-funding solution at a time when sentiment and outlook for the Hong Kong office property sector was uncertain, and closed the deal in May.
It was also lead-left on a HK$2bn debut loan backing the take-private of fashion retailer IT, despite the headwinds for the sector at the height of a fourth wave of infections in Hong Kong.
StanChart’s ability to bag several sole mandates from borrowers across the region stood out even as deal flow remained sketchy amid challenging market conditions and fierce competition among arrangers. Nearly two dozen sole mandates came in China and Hong Kong and more than a dozen deals came from debut borrowers.
“We were quick to pivot and refocus our origination and distribution efforts to respond to the changing market conditions witnessed during the year, navigating through shifting borrower funding requirements, emerging headwinds in certain sectors and the evolving regulatory landscape,” said Lakhwani.
The bank identified changes in appetite among lenders following China’s climate policy, and reintroduced credits from the solar energy sector to the market after a three-year hiatus. Deals included loans for Chint Solar and Tongwei Solar.
The syndication of a US$300m debut loan for online travel agency Tongcheng-Elong also showcased StanChart’s accurate market read as China’s domestic travel industry showed signs of recovery.
A US$1.35bn green loan for Adani Green Energy highlighted StanChart’s sustainable credentials. The bank was the only underwriter among the 12 leads on the deal, which also stood out for the participation of Bayfront Infrastructure Management and Hong Kong Mortgage Corp – the first time the two lenders had committed to an Indian renewable energy financing.
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