Going the extra mile
In a year full of challenges for Asia’s equity capital markets, one bank went above and beyond to raise funds for clients by leveraging its global platform and entering new territory. For taking on risk even under extreme volatility, UBS is IFR’s Asia-Pacific Equity House of the Year.
UBS led the way in 2022, securing key roles on the biggest capital raisings of the year and showing its strength across a mix of markets and products.
Equity fundraising activity in Asia-Pacific tumbled, but there were bright spots. Issuers from China accounted for two-thirds of activity, and A-share markets contributed most of the volume, meaning an onshore presence was critical.
UBS picked up US$9.9bn of league table credit through 53 transactions and was the best performing foreign bank, according to Refinitiv data.
UBS, through its joint venture UBS Securities, managed to get a cut of the A-share boom. It was one of only two foreign banks that worked on the Rmb45bn (US$6.7bn) A-share private placement of Chinese electric vehicle battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology, the largest ever A-share marketed follow-on and the largest follow-on globally in 2022.
The deal drew unprecedented demand from foreign investors, who accounted for around 42% of the transaction. Leveraging its global platform, UBS targeted offshore investment institutions and onshore public funds for the share sale and introduced Thai state-owned energy giant PTT as a strategic investor.
UBS also completed the Rmb1.61bn float in August of photographic equipment maker ZKTeco, its first ChiNext IPO since the introduction of a registration-based regime in June 2020.
Other prominent A-share transactions included BGI Genomics-backed MGI Tech's Rmb3.6bn Shanghai Star IPO, JA Solar Technology’s Rmb5bn primary placement and Spring Airlines' Rmb3bn private share placement.
While rivals were cutting onshore headcount to an absolute minimum needed to maintain their A-share licences, UBS acted differently.
"We are redeploying people to onshore. It’s a key matrix to tell our firm's commitment for Chinese clients," said Selina Cheung, co-head of Asia ECM at UBS.
The strong cross-border collaboration between the onshore and offshore platform could also be seen in the HK$18.4bn (US$2.3bn) Hong Kong listing of Shanghai-listed China Tourism Group Duty Free.
UBS, as one of the two sponsors, brought in Chinese and foreign investors to cover around 46% of the cornerstone tranche.
When China-to-US listings were off limits due to political tensions, UBS took companies to Europe through GDR listings in London and a new venue, the SIX Swiss Exchange.
UBS led the US$718m Swiss GDR sale of textile company Jiangsu Eastern Shenghong, the largest Swiss GDR offer so far, and a US$440m Swiss GDR offer for lithium-ion battery maker Sunwoda Electronic.
“We are very optimistic about the GDR product and we think the companies that we can bring to the market can actually make a difference,” said Zili Guo, co-head of Asia ECM at UBS.
UBS was also not shy to commit its own capital for the right clients, even for issuers from the struggling Chinese real estate sector.
The bank in 2022 arranged three private placements and one convertible bond for developer Country Garden Holdings, a repeat client since 2020, raising a combined US$1.98bn.
A sole-led HK$3.9bn CB in January was particularly impressive. Two banks sounded the market with a proposed US$300m CB for Country Garden but failed to launch, leading to selling of the developer's bonds and shares. After reverse enquiries from investors, UBS stepped in and underwrote a CB sold in a club format to avoid any further news leakage.
The deal was crucial for Country Garden’s survival and paved the way for the subsequent transactions.
UBS also reclaimed the top spot of Australasian equity raising in 2022, supporting clients with its unrivalled appetite for risk.
The Swiss bank underwrote the four largest entitlement offers in Australia and New Zealand in 2022. They were Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (A$3.5bn, US$2.44bn), Atlas Arteria (A$3.1bn), Carsales.com (A$1.2bn) and Air New Zealand (NZ$1.2bn, US$829m).
In Southeast Asia, UBS led SPAC Pegasus Asia’s S$150m (US$110m) IPO, one of the first blank-cheque company listings in Singapore, and JG Summit Holdings’ Ps12.4bn (US$223m) sell-down in Manila Electric.
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