21st June 2024

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Business Industry and Financial

Investment Banking Awards 2024 – The Banker

After a subdued couple of years in capital markets, activity has started to pick up across product lines. 

The winners of The Banker’s Investment Banking Awards have continued to innovate and deliver positive outcomes for their clients across the 22 product and regional categories.

Investment banks from across the world competed for the titles, and winners include institutions from the US, the UK, France, South Africa and the UAE, among others. The scope of the applications and awards is a tribute to how banks serve their customers in an increasingly fragmented world.  

The “bulge bracket” banks had a strong showing but were not the only players making waves.

Participants were asked to share details of their most impressive work and achievements between January 2023 and February 2024, our judging period. Those continued to be turbulent months for financial markets, not least because of the implications of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and the war between Hamas and Israel erupting in October 2023. 

On a positive economic note, inflation and interest rates cooled somewhat. This is in contrast with last year’s awards, when the long period of low interest rates that began in response to the global financial crisis was already coming to an end, but few people expected the spike that followed. Investment banks had only just guided their clients through the Covid-19 pandemic, and its related lockdowns and supply shocks, when they had to face a new set of challenges. 

This years’ winners receive plaudits for their aptitude in navigating the turbulent waters – for example, identifying brief market windows for transactions and rallying wary investors to these opportunities.

Sustainability was much discussed across all entries, and the categories dedicated to specific sustainability awards were particularly popular, with institutions aware of investor appetite for such deals. Social as well as green characteristics were prominent themes — one of our winners engaged in a bond to support women-led businesses. 

More broadly, the awards were judged on the quality of service, execution and problem-solving demonstrated by banks in the difficult environment of the past year. There was also an emphasis on innovation, and how banks have worked to develop new products, structures and services to help clients and shape the market.

Some of the winners’ work on large infrastructure projects is also worth recognising. These include the Tel Aviv Light Railway Purple Line, Moray West Offshore Wind Farm (expected to supply the equivalent of 50 per cent of Scotland’s domestic electricity) and South Africa’s Maziv Proprietary Limited telecoms deal worth R25bn ($1.4bn).

Judges were also impressed by the innovative work in the private placements and restructuring categories where banks worked with clients under commercial pressure.  

Despite the strong headwinds and continuing uncertainty, investment banks were able to execute thousands of deals, many of which break new ground and show the way ahead for the industry. 

Judging panel

  • Michael Klimes, investment banking and capital markets editor, The Banker 
  • Silvia Pavoni, editor in chief, The Banker 
  • John Everington, Middle East and Africa editor, The Banker
  • Kimberley Long, Asia editor, The Banker
  • Luis Galindo, global head of debt capital markets research, ION Analytics
  • Sarah Mook, partner, Linklaters
  • Silvia Fazio, partner, Norton Rose Fulbright 
  • Tina Mavraki, IoD chartered director and Fellow of Chapter Zero
  • Matt Toole, director, deals intelligence, LSEG

Investment Bank of the Year, Global and North America

Winner: Citigroup

While preparing for a major restructuring and facing tough competition from peers, Citigroup proved it can still deliver interesting and innovative solutions to clients. 

In the US it acted as a steady hand during the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank in March 2023 via the syndicated loan market.

Citi was the first call for many borrowers that needed revolver refinancings, term loan facilities, and M&A activity. It also helped clients shift to the secured overnight financing rate from Libor after the latter was discontinued in June 2023, and helped borrowers understand new regulatory proposals from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department. 

It also was instrumental in some of the largest deals during the year across a variety of sectors, including healthcare and infrastructure.

Citi was also a player in the largest healthcare deal of the year with Catalent on its $16.5bn all cash sale to Novo Holdings.

The bank was an active bookrunner on Kaspi’s $1bn US IPO in January 2024. Kaspi is Kazakhstan’s largest super app, providing  a consumer-focused digital ecosystem with payments, e-commerce, and financing solutions. 

Ahead of the US IPO, Citi hosted Kaspi at its tech conference in New York to raise the profile of the company. 

Citi head of investment banking North America John Chirico said: “At Citi we are a multinational corporation’s solution provider, and we focus on what is global, what is happening and where growth is going to occur. We are seeing risk come back from an investor perspective and board rooms beginning to focus on offence and not just defence.”

Outside of its home market, Citi was an important player in a number of significant transactions involving sovereigns. 

In February 2023, it acted as bookrunner to raise the Republic of Egypt’s inaugural sukuk offering and the first sukuk from Africa since 2014, which raised $1.5bn amid a backdrop of volatile rates. 

Then in March it was joint bookrunner and joint lead manager on Morocco’s $2.5bn dual-tranche 144A/RegS bond offering.

In the Middle East, Citi took part in the creation of the largest tower company in the Middle East and north Africa region across Qatar, Iraq, Kuwait, Jordan, Tunisia and Algeria. 

In December 2023, Ooredoo Group, Zain Group and TASC Towers Holding announced the signing of agreements to create a tower conglomerate of roughly 30,000 towers valued at $2.2bn in a cash and share deal.

Citi head of global investment banking and vice-chair of banking and international Tyler Dickson said: “We are very pleased to have won these prestigious awards. 

“These awards are a testament to the dedication, expertise, and innovative strategies that our team uses to win. It reaffirms our commitment to delivering exceptional results for our clients. We want to also thank our clients for their confidence in us.”

Investment Bank of the Year, Africa

Winner: Standard Bank 

South Africa-based Standard Bank performed impressively last year and set itself apart from the competition in three areas. Firstly it has innovated in the syndicated loan market with the launch of a digital loan agency platform called Reach, which automates tasks and proactively guides users through the loan cycle. 

This platform is the first of its kind for the market according to Standard Bank. 

Secondly it facilitated South Africa’s largest debt transaction of 2023 with the Maziv Proprietary Limited telecoms deal worth R25bn ($1.4bn).

Maziv is in charge of the rollout of major fibre expansion projects across South Africa. It has key investments in fibre network operators Dark Fibre Africa and Vumatel. 

DFA builds, installs and maintains open access fibre in the country, which is leased out to mobile network operators, internet service providers, government and enterprise customers.

[This award] is a testament to the success of our Africa-led growth strategy, where we are now present across 20 African markets

Brian Marshall, global head of investment banking, Standard Bank

Standard Bank was appointed as joint mandated lead arranger and bookrunner to refinance Maziv’s large debt package. It spearheaded the origination effort and brought 11 financial institutions together across key local banks and other players to ensure the right outcome for Maziv.

This transaction represents a major milestone as it is the most significant debt transaction in the telecoms sector in South Africa to date.

Standard Bank global head of investment banking Brian Marshall says: “We are extremely proud to have received recognition from The Banker as the Investment Bank of the Year for Africa. 

“It’s a testament to the success of our Africa-led growth strategy, where we are now present across 20 African markets. 

“This pan-African presence, coupled with a comprehensive investment banking product offering and the largest balance sheet on the continent, ensures that we can deliver innovative and sustainable solutions for our clients, and inclusive, responsible growth for the continent. Africa is our home, we drive her growth.” 

Investment Bank of the Year, Asia-Pacific

Winner: DBS

DBS holds on to the award for investment bank in the year for Asia-Pacific, thanks to the bank’s continued strong presence across the region and focus on building out this business segment. 

The bank has fixed income operations in six locations across the region, together with the UK. This international spread has enabled the bank to position itself as a one-stop shop for debt financing in the region. 

DBS operated as lead bookrunner on a number of benchmark deals, such as the reopening of the government of Singapore’s S$2.8bn ($2.1bn) green bonds, priced at 3 per cent and due in 2072. While this is a repeat transaction, DBS advised the Monetary Authority of Singapore to adopt a two-step strategy including hosting virtual investors meetings and using initial price guidance and final price guidance strategy. 

DBS has shown our resilience by staying committed to our clients, keeping the markets open to Asian and non-Asian participants alike

Clifford Lee, global head of investment banking, DBS

Further green bond deals include the CapitaLand Integrated Commercial Trust’s S$400mn bonds, priced at 3.938 per cent and due in 2030. 

Engaging innovative approaches are a defining feature of DBS’s operations, such as when it acted as the sole issue manager for the de-Spac of Vertex Technology Acquisition Corporation, making it not only the first de-Spac completed on the Singapore Stock Exchange, but in Asia. 

Across the region as a whole in the all-equities space in 2023, DBS was the lead manager of two IPOs, nine placements, four preferential offerings and one rights issue. In total, this accounts for 28.2 per cent of total proceeds, raising in the region of $3.7bn. 

Commenting on the win Clifford Lee, global head of investment banking at DBS, said: “The investment banking landscape across Asia has been challenging and volatile. DBS has shown our resilience by staying committed to our clients, keeping the markets open to Asian and non-Asian participants alike, while continuing our drive towards sustainable financing. This award serves to thank our clients for acknowledging our efforts.”

Investment Bank of the Year, Europe

Winner: Société Générale

One of the most active players in Europe, Société Générale has steadily applied its bankers’ ingenuity to new and fast growing areas, as well as to more traditional markets. Experience in equity and capital raising has long been a distinctive trait of the Paris-based group. Last year, SocGen showed particular prowess in the equity derivative structures it devised for its clients, as well as in the platform improvements for listed products and its expanded reach across Europe.

The bank also delivered one of the largest IPOs of 2023, in a deal that gelled particularly well with a more recent area of expertise for the bank: sustainable finance.

The €605mn listing of Thyssenkrupp Nucera in Frankfurt in July 2023 provided fresh capital to the global electrolysis technology company, whose work is an integral component of the development of green hydrogen plants. An important use of the technology is in the production of steel, which accounts for about 7 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Green hydrogen can cut emissions by 95 per cent, say proponents of the technology.

SocGen expanded its presence in this area by also leading the €4.2bn project financing for H2 Green Steel’s Boden plant in Sweden, which the bank describes as the world’s first large-scale green integrated steel plant and Europe’s first giga-scale electrolyser (the technology that extracts hydrogen from water).

The financing was the result of a broader and long-standing work with H2 Green Steel, and created a new, innovative financing structure.

Further, SocGen provided a mammoth $5bn green loan project financing for the lithium-ion battery manufacturing and recycling plant of Northvolt, another Swedish company, which, as for H2 Green Steel, came to life thanks to the involvement of renowned climate tech investors Harald Mix and Carl-Erik Lagercrantz.

SocGen was also involved in a number of other interesting transactions aimed at financing the green transition.

Investment Bank of the Year, Latin America

Winner: Itaú BBA

Itaú BBA has been one of the most active investment banks in Latin America, structuring complex deals throughout the year. 

The investment bank advised Brazilian fashion company Arezzo&Co on its $2.6bn merger with peer Grupo Soma, creating one of the biggest players in Brazil’s apparel market. 

Itaú BBA worked on a number of interesting ESG transactions, advising companies and governments both nationally and internationally in the issuance of innovative instruments. Aside from recent achievements, the bank coordinated more than 60 per cent of all Brazilian issuances in the international bond markets in the last three years, positioning itself as a market leader. 

The bank has supported clients to achieve their goals on sustainability. In particular, Itaú BBA worked on a number of ESG transactions, advising companies and governments both nationally and internationally in the issuance of innovative instruments. In 2023, Itaú participated in 20 out of 37 ESG-labelled offerings. In September, it advised Aegea, the largest private sanitation company in Brazil, which became the first company in the South American country to issue sustainable bonds in the international market of the
hybrid type. 

The bank also advised Chile on its first sovereign bond with gender equality KPIs. The bank also had a role in the Brazilian Treasury’s issuance of its first ever sustainable bond. The Brazilian government raised $2bn with the issuance, representing a relevant milestone in the management of the federal public debt and attracting significant interest from investors. 

Finally, Itaú BBA acted as one
of the global coordinators of Electrobras’ privatisation, considered the second largest offering ever in Latin
America. 

Since 2022, it has worked on improving teams’ workflow, implementing more than 10 “squad” teams, with each squad working on a new software to improve equity and debt capital markets, and M&A deal and
pipeline control. 

Investment Bank of the Year, Middle East

Winner: FAB

In a highly competitive category, the UAE’s FAB takes home the prize for Investment Bank of the Year for the Middle East for 2024, in recognition of several landmark deals within the equity capital markets, debt capital markets, and sustainable finance spaces.

“To be named the Investment Bank of the Year for the Middle East is a testament to our commitment to excellence, strategic focus, and diversified growth strategy, enhanced by our unique transactional expertise,” says Martin Tricaud, FAB’s group head of investment banking.

The largest bank in the UAE by assets, FAB has been at the forefront of the country’s equity listings boom in recent years, ranking in the top three in both the UAE and the Middle East and north Africa region by value of deals.

[This award] is a testament to our commitment to excellence, strategic focus, and diversified growth strategy

Martin Tricaud, group head of investment banking, FAB

Among the bank’s notable achievements last year was the Dh1.66bn ($452mn) IPO of Investcorp Capital on the Abu Dhabi stock exchange in November. With the listing of stakes in government entities dominating listings in the emirate to date, Investcorp was one of the first private sector companies to apply to list on ADX. The listing, which presented structuring and regulatory challenges that required significant innovation, was the first in the UAE to feature a greenshoe option, an over-allotment option enabling the underwriter the right to sell more shares than originally planned. FAB acted as joint global coordinator, joint bookrunner, and joint lead receiving bank.

In the DCM space, FAB advised Saudi sovereign wealth fund the Public Investment Fund on a $5.5bn multi-tranche green bond offering in February. The bank was the only regional lender to be appointed as a joint active bookrunner.

During the review period, FAB lent, invested, and facilitated in excess of $25.3bn in sustainable finance, nearly triple its total for the previous year. Transaction highlights for the year included a $2.42bn refinancing – subsequently recognised as a green loan facility – for Emirati nuclear power firm Barakah One Company PJSC, and a $5.85bn facility for Saudi-based Neom Green Hydrogen.

Investment Bank of the Year for Bonds

Winner: Citigroup

Issuing bonds has been an especially complex business lately, with interest rate increases and wider economic uncertainty making for an often volatile environment. Amid these conditions, Citi has once again demonstrated its ability to be a reliable partner to issuers and achieve strong outcomes, even in difficult circumstances. 

“Our clients work with us because of our extensive experience but also our precise execution,” says Rich Zogheb, head of debt capital markets at Citigroup.

Our clients work with us because of our extensive experience but also our precise execution

Rich Zogheb, head of debt capital markets, Citigroup

It has been at the helm of big ticket deals such as Pfizer’s eight-tranche $31bn bond offering in May 2023 to finance its takeover of biotech company Seagen — the fourth largest investment grade bond deal on record — where it acted as a joint lead manager. In addition it has used its technical expertise to support clients with non-standard structures, in order to optimise their liability profiles. For instance, in June 2023 Citi acted as joint lead bookrunner and sole structuring agent on United Airlines’ $1.32bn enhanced equipment trust certificate issuance. EETCs utilise a special purpose vehicle structure, where debt is secured against aircraft fleet. The deal was the first public EETC to have been issued by any airline
since 2021.

It has also supported financial issuers to manage their regulatory capital through novel structures, such as Scotiabank’s $750mn AT1 issuance in January, which used a limited recourse capital note structure, a Canadian regulatory structure comparable to preferred equity. 

In sustainability-themed issuances Citi continued to play an important role in the market, such as being an active bookrunner on chemical giant Dow’s inaugural dual-tranche $1.25bn green bond in February and Verizon’s $1bn sixth green bond, focused on renewable energy.

Investment Bank of the Year for Emerging Markets

Winner: HSBC

Across equity capital markets, debt capital markets and M&A, HSBC has demonstrated its expertise and market leadership in emerging markets.

“Our proactive and innovative approach with complex deal structuring, our access to investors as the window into the emerging markets and our deep experience of sustainable finance across all teams continues to build client trust and deliver mandates,” says Samer Deghaili, co-head of investment banking, HSBC MENAT. 

Zooming in on its emerging markets ECM franchise, it supported capital raises worth more than $13bn across 13 IPOs, 11 secondary offerings and several other deals between January 2023 and February 2024. A notable success was Investcorp’s November 2023 $451mn IPO on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, where it was joint global coordinator. This was the first transaction in the UAE where a stablisation mechanism was used. HSBC was the only international bank involved throughout and led discussions with the UAE regulator and ADX.

[This award] underlines our expertise in managing those intricate deals that are pivotal to driving sectoral transformation and capital deployment

Jon Connor, co-head of investment banking, HSBC MENAT

In DCM, a key deal was supporting VW to successfully execute its Rmb1.5bn ($207mn) panda bond (a renminbi-denominated bond sold in China and issued by a non-Chinese entity) as joint lead bookrunner in September 2023 — a strategic transaction for the bank, which has been present in China since 1978. 

It also structured an innovative sustainability-linked bond for the Republic of Chile in June last year — the first from a sovereign to include a gender-focused KPI. 

In M&A HSBC acted as sole financial adviser to private equity firm Fajr Capital in late 2023 on its acquisition of Aster DM’s India and Gulf businesses. Fajr was representing a consortium of investors, and HSBC played a key role in managing the complexities of the transaction. 

“HSBC’s leadership in complex mergers and acquisitions across emerging markets underlines our expertise in managing those intricate deals that are pivotal to driving sectoral transformation and capital deployment,” says Jon Connor, co-head of investment banking, HSBC MENAT. 

Investment Bank of the Year for Equity Derivatives

Winner: Société Générale

Société Générale has invested heavily in making its equity derivatives business a key differentiator, prioritising quality execution and a high level of service. This robust underpinning enabled it to maintain a strong level of commercial performance in 2023 despite wider market volatility. 

Latterly, its investment has included a focus on market leading digital infrastructure. In its equity structured business it has established a digital platform, which it says now enables more than 85 per cent of transactions to be processed through automated systems. 

This has led to increased efficiency, enhanced risk management and the ability to deliver a better service to clients. 

A particular area of success for the business in the last year has been its products for retail investors. The bank has been able to boost its offering via specific content, communications and tools to better engage and serve this targeted investor group, including dedicated podcasts and video content. In Germany last year it launched Hebelselect alongside online bank comdirect, creating a new platform for trading leveraged instruments. 

Building on its strong offering for retail investors across 13 European countries, it is also becoming a leader in Asia-Pacfic in markets such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan. For instance, last year it launched Asia’s first-ever autocallable structured certificates on the Singapore
stock exchange. 

In its offering for institutional clients, the bank has continued to innovate in its short term equity put strategy, or STEP, the first version of which was launched in 2019. It provides dynamic exposure to very short-term listed out of the money put-options. Last year, it launched STEP 3.0, which includes a new index centred on benefitting from gap-risk premiums. 

Investment Bank of the Year for Equity Raising

Winner: Citigroup

2023 was a relatively quiet year for traditional equity raising activity. Citigroup, however, has continued to help its clients access equity capital markets using a range of creative approaches. “At Citi we work with our clients to understand their needs and develop bespoke solutions to ensure they have the capital they need to execute their plans,” says Doug Adams, Citi’s global co-head of equity capital markets.

For instance, in a tight capital environment, corporates and private equity sponsors alike have been seeking to monetise strongly performing equity stakes. Citi played a major role in many of last year’s most high profile deals in this space. 

At Citi we work with our clients to understand their needs and develop bespoke solutions to ensure they have the capital they need to execute their plans

Doug Adams, global co-head of equity capital markets, Citigroup

This includes leading on Clayton, Dubilier & Rice’s selldown of a $3.6bn stake in water pipes and fire protection products distributor, Core & Main. Citi led four block trades between November 2023 and January 2024 and was able to significantly accelerate the monetisation. Each subsequent block was priced better than the previous and traded up in the aftermarket. Between March and September 2023, it was joint lead coordinator on three secondary offerings where a consortium led by Blackstone and Thomson Reuters monetised an $8.2bn stake in the London Stock Exchange Group. 

The bank has also helped clients to manage liabilities via convertible bond issuances. Macroeconomic conditions mean that many issuers were able to achieve more attractive terms on convertible notes than straight debt. Citi helped multiple clients to achieve relative interest rate savings via such issuances. This includes acting as a bookrunner for entertainment company Live Nation’s $1bn convertible bond in January 2023 and a left lead bookrunner for Spanish telecom firm Cellnex’s $1.1bn note in July 2023.

It also helped several clients to issue sustainable convertible notes, including a green convertible bond from EV manufacturer Rivian and real estate firm Swiss Prime Site’s offering of exchangeable notes which raised capital for use in projects in line with the latter’s green finance framework. 

Investment Bank of the Year for Infrastructure and Project Finance

Winner: HSBC

Amid market volatility, rising inflation and geopolitical tensions, HSBC has emerged as a trusted partner in the project financing space, leveraging its extensive global presence to provide advice and secure access to capital on some of the largest and most complex projects within the award’s timeframe. 

One notable highlight is HSBC’s role in Baltic Power’s €4.4bn offshore wind farm project financing. Upon reaching full capacity in 2026, it will provide clean electricity to more than 1.5mn households and become instrumental in reducing Poland’s reliance on coal-fired electricity production.

As one of the most engaged banks in the deal, HSBC assumed multiple agency and execution roles while actively contributing to ESG and documentation negotiations. The financing structure leverages a 25-year euro-pegged and inflation-indexed contract for difference revenue arrangement with the Polish government, ensuring market liquidity while also aligning with LMA green loan principles.

This award demonstrates how we captured the right opportunities and supported our clients across a wide range of geographies

James Dynon, global head of real asset finance for global banking, HSBC

HSBC continued to demonstrate its expertise on large-scale project deals with the $6.1bn financing of Neom Green Hydrogen Company. The NGHC plant, currently under construction in northern Saudi Arabia, is set to become the world’s largest green hydrogen plant when it begins operating in 2026. 

Alongside its local partner Saudi Awwal Bank, HSBC assumed multiple roles including as coordinator, bookrunner, MLA and lender for the deal’s US dollar-denominated commercial and ECA facilities. Additionally, HSBC served as the onshore security agent, istisna’a-ijara agent, murabaha agent and market risk execution bank for hedging.

“This award demonstrates how we captured the right opportunities and supported our clients across a wide range of geographies, despite often challenging technical market considerations and geopolitical tensions,” says James Dynon, global head of real asset finance for global banking at HSBC.  

“This also cements our continued focus, leadership and expertise in the financing of large innovative green energy and energy transition deals.” 

Investment Bank of the Year for IPOs

Winner: Barclays

To say it has been a slow couple of years for IPOs would be an understatement, with economic uncertainty continuing to weigh on new listings. In a tight IPO market getting the details right on the deals that do come to market is crucial. Amid these difficult conditions Barclays has played a key role in helping a range of issuers to successfully go public. 

“Last year demonstrated how clients really value Barclays’ integrated approach to the ECM business and our focus on innovation. In challenging market conditions, they turned to us for advice and we distinguished ourselves with customised, high-quality outcomes,” says Tom Swerling, Barclays’ global head of equity capital markets.

In challenging market conditions, [clients] turned to us for advice and we distinguished ourselves with customised, high-quality outcomes

Tom Swerling, global head of equity capital markets, Barclays

According to the bank’s stats it had a substantive role in 55 per cent of US IPOs and 57 per cent of European IPOs in 2023. 

This included being a lead bookrunner in two of the first deals of 2023 on both sides of the Atlantic. In January it acted as joint lead bookrunner on Skyward Insurance’s $154mn IPO on the Nasdaq. Although a small listing, this was one of the first US IPOs of the year, so an important deal to get right and requiring thoughtful execution. 

In Europe, the bank acted as joint global coordinator on Lottomatica’s €600mn IPO in Milan in April. It was the first IPO of the year in Europe worth more than €500mn, and enjoyed strong investor support. 

Crucially, the bank has had a big hand in tech activity, consistently an important area of activity for IPOs, and particularly so recently. It was a joint lead coordinator on ARM’s $5.2bn IPO in September 2023 on the Nasdaq, the largest IPO of last year, securing investment from major global strategic investors such as Apple, Google and Samsung.

One specific area where the bank was able to offer a differentiated service was with margin loans, enabling stronger outcomes in several deals. For instance, Barclays delivered margin loans in both the ARM and Lottomatica IPOs, leading to boosted proceeds. 

Investment Bank of the Year for Leveraged Finance

Winner: Citigroup

While recent years may have been a quiet period for leveraged buyout activity, the broader financing needs of non-investment grade issuers could not be put on hold. At a time where market volatility has created a skittish investment environment, Citigroup expertly guided its clients to successful issuances, utilising targeted capital structures and identifying opportunistic windows. 

This included helping issuers to refinance debt such as acting as a bookrunner on American Airlines’ $1.1bn term loan B and $1bn senior secured notes package in November 2023, and for
digital infrastructure provider Uniti Group’s $2.6bn bond offering in February 2023. 

In American’s case, Citi helped it to be nimble with the creation of deal documentation to enable it to take advantage of favourable market issuance conditions. With Uniti, Citi helped it issue against a highly challenging backdrop — the bonds were put in place while one of its largest customers was in the midst of bankruptcy proceedings and market speculation that it was evaluating the spinoff of its fibre business. Other banks had advised the group to undergo a longer public marketing campaign. Citi recommended a faster and more tactical campaign that ultimately enabled it to be in and out of the market for just one day.

Of the LBOs that did take place, Citi played a key role in some of the biggest. This included being an adviser to private equity firm GTCR on its $12.7bn acquisition of payment processing business Worldpay from FIS, and providing committed financing for the deal.

The bank also supported a range of firms in issuing debt to finance their sustainability-related objectives. This includes acting as a left lead bookrunner on pharmaceutical firm Teva’s sustainability-linked bond package in March 2023, which was ultimately upsized to reach $2.5bn. 

The bonds are linked to three environmental and social KPIs which relate to improving access to the firm’s portfolio of medicines in low- and middle-income countries and reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. 

Investment Bank of the Year for M&A

Winner: Evercore

Global M&A activity slumped by around 16 per cent in 2023 according to LSEG data. In spite of tepid market conditions, Evercore boosted its M&A activity by 42 per cent in terms of deal value during the year. It also achieved the top spot in the LSEG league table for global M&A deal value among independent investment banks. 

The bank had a hand in four of the 10 largest M&A transactions executed in 2023.

Evercore puts its success down to taking a long-term perspective and continuing to invest in talent and growing its capabilities, even amid difficult market conditions. It has also continued to innovate and adapt its approach in order to deliver a high level of service to its clients. 

This award is a recognition of our deep commitment to client service and independent, innovative advice

Tim LaLonde, senior managing director and CFO, Evercore

It demonstrated this, for instance, in the sale of packaging firm Constantia Flexibles to One Rock Capital, where it acted as sole financial adviser to Constantia. In May 2023, it ran a highly tailored sales process targeting vetted and highly motivated buyers. Despite the inflationary backdrop and volatile financing markets, Evercore was able to complete the process within just 12 weeks. 

Similarly, in the case of medical manufacturer Danaher’s sale of its environmental and applied solutions unit via the spin-out of Veralto Corporation, Evercore brought its full range of capabilities to bear. It was a large and complex transaction, with an equity value of approximately $20bn, and Evercore engaged its industrials/complex situations, equity capital markets, private capital markets, and tax advisory teams to support the deal. 

“This award is a recognition of our deep commitment to client service and independent, innovative advice,” says Tim LaLonde, senior managing director and CFO at Evercore. 

He adds that “M&A is playing a key role in Evercore’s growth as we continue to invest in the Firm to further strengthen and broaden our global capabilities”.

Investment Bank of the Year for Private Placements

Winner: Evercore

Honourable mention: Moelis

In a period when it has been more challenging to raise capital via public markets, private market transactions have been playing an ever-greater part in meeting corporate financing needs. Investment banks have an invaluable role to play, advising and shaping client outcomes in these transactions. 

Evercore has established itself as a major player with a genuine global presence in private placements, with expertise across structures such as private investment in public equity deals, growth equity and private credit. 

“Evercore continues to be a market-leading, solutions-based provider of both equity and debt private placements to our firm’s clients, with decades of team expertise and deep investor relationships,” say Pete Sorrentino and David Lischer, senior managing directors and co-heads of Evercore’s private capital markets practice.

Evercore continues to be a market-leading, solutions-based provider of both equity and debt private placements

Pete Sorrentino and David Lischer, senior managing directors and co-heads of private capital markets practice, Evercore

It has consistently demonstrated its ability to deliver innovative new structures. For instance, in December 2023 it priced its first-ever collateralised fund obligation for the private investing arm of insurer Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. 

Its ability to provide top-tier service outside of deal execution also sets it apart. In early 2023 it advised Ritchie Bros Auctioneers, a Canadian auctioneer of second hand farming and construction vehicles, with sites across North America and Europe, on its PIPE capital raise from investor Starboard Value. Ritchie Bros had in November 2022 agreed to acquire IAA, an auctioneer of wrecked and salvaged vehicles and was seeking the PIPE capital raise to partially fund the acquisition. Evercore led an investor relations campaign to advocate for the PIPE deal, which was dependent on a successful shareholder vote, as well as negotiating with Starboard on the deal structure. 

Evercore has also played a leading role in advising on energy transition transactions. In December 2023 it acted as exclusive financial adviser to Positive Zero, a Dubai-based decarbonisation company on its up to $400mn growth capital raise from BlackRock.

Investment Bank of the Year for Restructuring

Winner: Houlihan Lokey

For more than a decade, Houlihan Lokey has distinguished itself as one of the world’s premier financial restructuring houses. Throughout the review period, Houlihan completed 110 deals globally, contributing to the firm reaching restructuring revenues of $155mn in the first three months of this year, its second highest quarterly revenue in restructuring since its founding in 1972.  

Moreover, with 290 dedicated restructuring professionals stationed in 17 offices across 11 countries and five continents, Houlihan boasts a truly global presence. This expansive reach enables it to provide expertise on both local nuances and cross-border complexities. 

We bring unique scale and capabilities to the increasingly complex and multijurisdictional landscape where speculative credit faces distress and default

Manuel Martinez-Fidalgo, managing director and co-head of financial restructuring, Emea and Asia, Houlihan Lokey

“As the largest and most active global investment banking restructuring advisor, we bring unique scale and capabilities to the increasingly complex and multijurisdictional landscape where speculative credit faces distress and default,” says Manuel Martinez-Fidalgo, the bank’s managing director and co-head of financial restructuring, Emea and Asia.

Houlihan’s recent deal portfolio covers some of the most complex and innovative of the review period, including the landmark $10.2bn offshore debt restructuring of Chinese property developer Sunac. 

As exclusive financial advisor to Sunac, Houlihan recognised the diverse needs of its more than 2000 creditors, offering a range of options to satisfy them. These included swapping the $10.2bn of offshore debt into a mix of senior unsecured notes, mandatory convertible bonds, convertible bonds and ordinary shares.

By offering flexible terms tailored to different investor preferences, Houlihan facilitated a smooth restructuring process. Banks and long-only funds were provided with the option of senior notes, while hedge funds could opt for equities, allowing them to benefit from Sunac’s recovery while aiding its deleveraging efforts.

The outcome of the restructuring plan granted Sunac a three-year window to focus on business recovery without immediate debt repayment concerns, reduced its debt by up to $4.5bn and extended offshore maturities by five years. 

Investment Bank of the Year for Securitisation

Winner: Société Générale

At the core of Société Générale’s securitisation offering is an integrated and end-to-end approach that supports clients from initial loan issuance through structuring and origination. This approach, supported by highly experienced teams in key geographies, has enabled it to serve its clients well throughout a period of market volatility,  a challenge that has been heightened, within its core European market, by the ECB’s withdrawal of primary issuance purchasing. 

Globally, it has shown continued expertise in accessing investors via the full range of public, pre-placement and private placement strategies in a spread of asset classes across Europe, the US and Asia-Pacific.

In structuring, novel approaches have helped it to ensure the best client outcomes, such as in an auto loan securitisation for European vehicle finance specialist BDK in September 2023, where it acted as lead arranger. It utilised off-market swap structures to enable a substantial increase in the excess spread. 

SocGen has also used creative solutions to support clients with balance sheet optimisation. When acting as adviser for auto manufacturer Stellantis in April 2023 it executed a major synthetic significant risk transfer securitisation, structured under the EU’s simple, transparent and standardised securitisation regulatory framework. The transaction was originated by FCAB bank, a captive bank jointly owned by Crédit Agricole and Stellantis, and involved the issuance of three credit-linked notes based on auto loans and lease receivables across four countries. The programme has enabled Stellantis to reduce its risk exposure while also retaining the ability to benefit from the portfolio of assets. 

SocGen has also continued to be a leader in supporting sustainability-related securitisations. This has included taking a lead role in multiple solar energy-linked transactions in the US, and acting as sole arranger and lead manager for securitisation linked to New Zealand Green Investment Finance’s Solar Finance Programme. In Turkey, it assisted two banks in executing diversified payment rights deals to finance disaster relief packages for small and medium-sized enterprises and agricultural businesses impacted by the February 2023 earthquakes. 

Investment Bank of the Year for Sustainable Bonds

Winner: Citigroup

The sustainable bond market continues to be one of the most varied and fastest-developing areas of sustainable finance, with this market now extending well beyond the green bonds that first brought it into prominence. 

Citigroup has played a leading role in this market both in volume of activity and in driving innovation. Between January 2023 and February 2024 it was number two bookrunnner by deal value for global sustainable finance bond issuance according to Dealogic data.

During the award period it supported 47 issuers to execute debut sustainable bonds, including Mars, Eastman Chemicals, Commercial Bank of Dubai and the State of New York. And, on sustainable frameworks, it worked with 15 issuers to publish new or revised frameworks during the award period. One of the most significant was the Netherlands’ updated green bond framework in September 2023, which Citi co-structured and that incorporated use of proceeds criteria for water-related activities that were mapped against the amended EU taxonomy. 

The bank also supported significant innovation elsewhere. For instance, it was the sole lender to structure all four of the World Bank’s “outcome bonds”, two of which were issued during the assessment period. It structured and priced the $50mn emission reduction-linked bond. Its proceeds will be invested in water purification infrastructure in Vietnam, which is less carbon-intensive than traditional methods. Investors will not receive coupon payments, and instead their return will be based on the number of verified carbon units the project issues over the life of the bond. 

Citi also led on the $100mn plastic waste reduction-linked bond which will fund plastic waste collection and recycling projects in Ghana and Indonesia. Investors will receive annual coupons consisting of a fixed amount plus payments linked to plastic credits and voluntary carbon credits issued by the projects. These instruments are valuable for demonstrating how creative blended finance approaches can support sustainable development. 

Investment Bank of the Year for Sustainable FIG Financing

Winner: Crédit Agricole

Financial institutions had a demanding year in 2023 in regard to sustainability. Banks and other firms are being increasingly pushed by investors to develop more robust sustainability strategies and sectoral decarbonisation pathways, and to integrate sustainable instruments into their financing activities. As of this year, banks in Europe must disclose a green asset ratio, showing the share of EU taxonomy-aligned assets in selected financial assets. 

Crédit Agricole, a bank with a long track record as a sustainability leader, has played a key role in assisting its FIG clients to stay ahead in this fast-developing and complex area. 

Crucially, this has included supporting clients to develop taxonomy-aligned policies and processes. For instance, it acted as sole structuring adviser for La Banque Postale on its updated green, social and sustainability bond framework. This included an innovative approach of distinguishing between assets that are at a minimum aligned to the “substantial contribution criteria” of the EU taxonomy and assets that have other “green” eligibility criteria, which provided greater clarity for investors. It also supported Banco BPM on its updated green bond framework and Credito Emiliano on its revised green, social and sustainability bond framework, incorporating new issuance categories.  

Throughout the last year it has also continued its role in helping clients execute on inaugural green and other sustainability issuances; this included Belgian bank Crelan’s €600mn debut green bond issuance in September 2023 and CNP Assurances’ debut €500mn sustainability bond in January 2023. 

Crédit Agricole also continues to develop its expertise in areas that it expects to become market critical in the coming years. An example of this is the refinancing of sustainability-linked loans, as these become due and KPI performance is examined. It is a coordinator of the International Capital Market Association and Loan Market Association joint task force on sustainability-linked loans refinancing instruments.

Investment Bank of the Year for Sustainable Loans

Winner: Société Générale

Société Générale is embedding sustainability at the core of its operations. Alongside working to reduce its fossil fuel investments and shifting towards new businesses, it announced a €1bn transition investment fund in September 2023, consisting of €700mn in equity and €300mn in debt.

The fund aims to support emerging leaders in the energy transition by focusing on low-carbon sectors. It also seeks to promote nature-based solutions for biodiversity restoration and protection, and to provide impact financing in alignment with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

SocGen’s notable transactions during the review period include the €4.2bn project financing of H2 Green Steel in northern Sweden. H2 will be the world’s first large-scale green steel maker, using green hydrogen to reduce carbon emissions by 95 per cent compared to traditional methods.

We’re proud to be building first-class technical and sectorial expertise as well as advisory capabilities to raise bespoke funding structures

Eric Bonnin, head of global banking and advisory, environment and sustainable development, SocGen

The financing package includes €4.2bn in debt supported by more than 20 lenders, €2bn in equity, and a €250mn grant from the EU Innovation Fund. The debt comprises €3.55bn in senior debt, backed by green credit guarantees, and a €600mn junior debt facility. SocGen served as financial adviser to H2 and senior mandated lead arranger on the financing package.

Furthermore, SocGen  led on the $5bn non-recourse project financing for the expansion of Swedish lithium-ion battery manufacturer Northvolt Ett. The expansion will increase its capacity to 60GWh, enough to power one million electric vehicles per year.

The financing also supports expanding the adjacent recycling plant, Revolt Ett, which recovers battery-grade metals with a 70 per cent lower carbon footprint than mining the metals.

“We’re proud to be building first-class technical and sectorial expertise as well as advisory capabilities to raise bespoke funding structures, including debt and equity while operating as a leader within sustainable finance,” says Eric Bonnin, head of global banking and advisory, environment and sustainable development at SocGen.

Investment Bank of the Year for Sustainable SSA Financing

Winner: Crédit Agricole

Sovereign, supranational and agency issuers have consistently been at the forefront of advancing the sustainable finance market. For instance, 15 years ago the European Investment Bank printed the world’s first green bond, and continues to be a major issuer and innovator in sustainable deals. 

Crédit Agricole too has a long track record of supporting SSA clients to raise capital with sustainability objectives, including with precedent-setting structures. Last year was no different. 

In June 2023, it was a joint bookrunner on EIB’s SKr1bn ($2.3bn) digital climate awareness bond issuance. This bond acted as a proof of concept for less-carbon intensive blockchain technology. 

It was issued on so|bond, a blockchain-based platform developed by Crédit Agricole’s corporate and investment bank and SEB. The platform uses a new type of blockchain validation logic which can be supported by energy consumption levels comparable to non-blockchain systems, and incentivises participating devices in the blockchain system to continually improve their energy efficiency. They are given higher levels of remuneration the more efficient they are.

Crédit Agricole demonstrated its expertise in managing complexity elsewhere too. For instance, in May 2023 it was joint green structuring bank and joint global coordinator on Hong Kong’s eight tranche, $2.25bn, €1.5bn and Rmb15bn ($2.1bn) green bond issuance — the Hong Kong government’s largest-ever green bond transaction. It received interest from a wide range of investors and was heavily oversubscribed. 

In Europe, the bank supported clients with the complicated work of integrating the EU taxonomy regulation into their sustainable finance frameworks and financial instruments. 

This included acting as green structuring adviser to ÁKK, the Hungarian sovereign debt agency, in its €1.5bn green bond in January 2024, based on its updated green bond framework. 

Investment Bank of the Year for Syndicated Loans

Winner: Citigroup

The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank in March 2023 had significant repercussions on the syndicated loan market. Citigroup emerged as a key player, stepping up to fill the gap left by the largest bank failure in since the global financial crisis and assisting borrowers with various financial needs such as revolver refinancings, term loan facilities and M&A financing.

In 2023, Citi was lead arranger in nine out of the ten largest revolving credit facilities structured in the US. Additionally, it assumed the role of administrative agent in six of those top 10 facilities.

Citi’s prominence was evident in its involvement as a lead arranger and administrative agent on Amazon’s $20bn revolving credit facilities, the largest such facility currently in place in the US syndicated loan market.

At Citi we provide the best-in-class advice and service to our clients. This award is a reflection of our commitment to them

Susan Olsen, North America head of investment grade loans, Citi

Furthermore, Citi maintained its position as a top choice for bridge and term loan financing, orchestrating significant deals such as RTX’s $10bn share repurchase financing, Broadcom’s $28.4bn term loan facilities for its VMware acquisition and HPE’s $14bn financing for its acquisition of Juniper.

Notably, Citi led on major transactions in the energy sector, including Apache’s $2bn term loan facilities and as sole lead arranger for Diamondback’s $8bn bridge facility to support its acquisition of Endeavor Energy.

Citi also advised multiple first-time issuers. Prominent debut transactions included serving as the administrative agent on Tesla’s inaugural $5bn revolving credit facility and acting as a joint lead arranger on Kenvue’s debut $4bn revolving credit facility following its spin-off from Johnson & Johnson.

During the review period, Citi arranged over $40bn in sustainability-linked credit facilities and continues to be committed to reaching its $1tn target for sustainable finance by 2030.

“At Citi we provide the best-in-class advice and service to our clients. This award is a reflection of our commitment to them,” says Susan Olsen, North America head of investment grade loans at Citi. 

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