Singapore Bond House: DBS Bank

IFR Asia Awards 2022
3 min read
Kit Yin Boey

Lion’s share

DBS Bank proved nimble on its feet, shifting focus and strategies to take advantage of opportunities as market volatility dampened the offshore bond market but brightened prospects in Singapore dollars.

“We kept a tight watch on market developments, and we were able to bring and secure alternative solutions to both issuers and investors,” said Clifford Lee, global head of fixed income.

The fixed income team’s deep understanding of the Asian and international markets gave the bank the ability to serve its clients with products ranging from fixed income to liability management and structured products, even as market uncertainties loomed.

DBS focused much of its attention on the resilient Singapore dollar bond market, cementing its position as the leader of the pack with S$6.1bn (US$4.6bn) in volume for a 26.4% share of the home market, according to Refinitiv data.

DBS was at the helm of major deals by Singaporean public issuers, foremost of which was the Republic of Singapore’s sizzling inaugural S$2.4bn green 50-year bond that landed a few milestones, including the world’s first 50-year tenor on a sovereign green bond. As it was the government’s first syndicated issue and debut green bond, the price discovery process was critical.

DBS was the sole green structuring adviser for the government’s green bond framework and led the roadshows across Asia and Europe. It also helped navigate market volatility, finding a stable window on August 4 to price the deal.

The bank boosted its credentials as a sustainable financing bank, scoring another sole advisory mandate on Ascott Residence Trust’s sustainability-linked finance framework. The REIT debuted a S$200m five-year sustainability-linked bond at 3.63% in April for which DBS Bank acted as sole bookrunner as well. The note was the first SLB from a hospitality REIT globally.

With its market insight, DBS was in a good position to actively bring European banks to the Singapore dollar market to take advantage of an arbitrage window that resulted in significant savings in post-swap funding costs for its clients. One of these was HSBC Bank which issued Singapore’s largest Tier 2 bond from a foreign bank in 10 years. The S$900m 10-year non-call five that was sold at 5.25% in June saw the global bank save about 20bp–30bp versus a potential new issue in US dollars.

DBS also helped lead Temasek Holdings subsidiary Astrea VII’s US$754m-equivalent ABS, which priced in turbulent markets in May and included the first US dollar Class A-1 tranche offered to retail investors.

In liability management, it was sole dealer as Centurion Corporation exchanged S$38.5m of an outstanding S$55m 5.75% 2024s for new bonds due 2026 with step-up coupons.

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