World’s Best Investment Banks 2022: Regional Winners

Asia saw a rebound in debt markets but lagged the world in equities while soaring commodities helped some but hurt others.


According to the Bank for International Settlements, global liquidity in 2021 reached an unprecedented $175 trillion, twice global GDP. That figure set the tone for the year in investment banking, as cash-rich companies powered record deal making worldwide.

The macro scenario imposed different impacts on the world’s regions, however; so while most capital markets recorded positive figures, the depth of their rebounds varied.

In the US, a combination of zero interest rates and supportive central bank policy pushed equity, M&A and initial public offering (IPO) activities to record levels, while debt offerings took a tumble. Europe saw similar trends but with more stability on the bond side. Lagging the rest of the world on the equity side, Asia was the only geographic region to record a rebound in debt offerings. A growing interest in environmental, social and governance (ESG)-related bonds also benefited the region.

In Latin America, Africa and the Middle East, rising global commodity prices elevated gains for the sector’s companies. However, they also pushed inflation higher, leading to a substantial rise in interest rates that ultimately slashed equity gains in the second half of the year.

AFRICA

Bank of America

Bank of America’s long-established investment banking franchise in Africa has served corporate and government clients for over 50 years, most strongly in South Africa with 70 in-country staff. Thanks to its deep local knowledge that leverages a robust global platform, Bank of America has executed complex and innovative advisory and financing transactions across the continent and is recognized as our Best Investment Bank in Africa.

With expertise covering a range of sectors, the firm was particularly active with financial-institution clients, through financing mandates for Absa, Bidvest, Old Mutual, development bank Africa Finance Corp. and Investec, the latter of which included a sustainability-linked offering.

In the tech sector, the Karooooo IPO involved a dual listing on the Nasdaq and Johannesburg stock exchange; in the telecom-infrastructure sector, the firm advised Helios Towers on tower site acquisitions. The $3 billion eurobond issue by the Republic of Ghana was the largest transaction for this sovereign and Africa’s largest eurobond issue since the onset of the pandemic. The bank consistently exhibited strong deal execution with several issues upsized and oversubscribed, and with one deal achieving a record-low coupon for a South African corporate borrower. —DS

ASIA-PACIFIC

CITIC Securities

Last year started at full steam for CITIC Securities, our choice for the overall Best Investment Bank in Asia-Pacific, which used its full capital market capabilities and strategic positioning to post the region’s largest gains in debt, equities and fees. Although  the property-developer crisis and government regulations on tech companies dampened growth in the second half of the year, CITIC was able to secure its undisputed top position in most of the region’s capital markets.

The bank posted 1% growth in the regional equities capital markets for the year, adding to a total 9% share. In IPOs, 82 issuances totaling $11 billion propelled the bank to the first position. The Chinese behemoth excelled in debt markets, with $119 billion in offerings. The bank also improved its position in Asia’s M&A market, although it still lags large American banks in overall heft. CITIC benefited from long-time consolidated partnerships and participated in most of the region’s largest capital deals, Tencent’s equity follow-on and Industrial Bank of China’s convertible offerings. —TM

CENTRAL & EASTERN EUROPE

VTB Capital


Investment banking in Eastern Europe has been completely upended in 2022 by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and consequent sanctions. Looking over the past year, however, VTB Capital is once again the regional standout. The ever-changing market conditions and challenges posed by the pandemic led VTB to develop an integrated corporate and investment banking platform, which supported the business throughout the difficult circumstances of the past year, enabling the bank’s main business lines to continue to prosper.

According to Refinitiv, VTB Capital controlled 22% of the M&A market in Russia in 2021, with 21 deals worth $7.4 billion. Its share of the Russian debt capital markets was an impressive 59%, with 79 deals worth $21.3 billion. $1.14 billion in equity capital market deals ranked VTB Capital as the number two bookrunner in Russia,. In all, VTB Capital has participated in more than 1,100 equity and debt capital market deals since it was established in 2008 and attracted more than $350 billion in investment into Russia and the CIS. —DR

LATIN AMERICA

Citi

In Latin America’s capital markets, equities and IPOs largely outperformed in the first half of 2021; while surging inflation, devaluating currencies and rising interest rates pushed the fixed-income market higher in the second half of the year. Citi, our choice for Best Investment Bank in Latin America this year, took advantage of its strength in multiple markets across the region to ride those seasonal changes, posting numerous records for the year.

The bank was Latin America’s leader in investment banking fees after an 88.1% rise over the prior year. Within those figures, a monumental 4,394% rise on the equity side pushed the bank’s equity market share to nearly 15%, the best in the region, according to Refinitiv.

The American behemoth also participated in some of Latin America’s most significant deals, including the $9.6 billion acquisition by Hapvida of Brazilian health care giant Notre Dame, Mercado Libre’s $288 million SPAC deal, and Vale’s $11 billion debenture offering.

Citi was also responsible for a good portion of the region’s sovereign bond issues, having key partnerships with Chile, Colombia, Paraguay and Argentina. —TM

MIDDLE EAST

EFG Hermes

EFG Hermes has a growing presence key market, with a full suite of debt and equity capital markets and M&A capabilities and strong expertise in regional companies, markets and economies.

In 2021, the firm’s 35 transactions worth $7.6 billion included many noteworthy deals. In M&A, the firm advised UAE-based Agthia Group on three deals in the food and beverage space: the cross-border acquisition of Kuwait’s Al Faysal Bakery and Sweets, the $153 million acquisition of Egypt’s Atyab and the $176 million acquisition of the leading UAE health  food company. In financial services, EFG advised Bank Audi on the sale of 100% of its Egyptian subsidiary, Bank Audi S.A.E., to First Abu Dhabi Bank.

Expanding in Saudi Arabia is a priority, and EFG acted as bookrunner on Alkhorayef Water and Power’s $218 million IPO and Theeb Rent a Car’s $138 million IPO. In health care, the firm advised Integrated Diagnostics on its $30 million issuance on the Egyptian Exchange, now a dual listing on the London Stock Exchange. Significant transactions in the UAE included advising China Three Gorges on the acquisition of UAE-based solar and wind developer Alcazar Energy; and advising Adnoc Drilling, the largest national drilling company in the Middle East, on its $1.1 billion listing—largest IPO ever on the Abu Dhabi stock market. With the acquisition of a 51% stake in Egypt’s Arab Investment Bank, EFG significantly broadens its banking model with a growing roster of commercial clients. —DS

NORTH AMERICA

Goldman Sachs

A global goliath, Goldman Sachs delivered outstanding performance in North America, particularly in M&A and equity capital markets, and we recognized it as the Best Investment Bank for the region. The firm held the number one position in completed M&A transactions in 2021, as it has for 22 of the past 23 years. Management cited a robust backlog of deal flow in the firm’s fourth-quarter earnings call; and given the highly competitive landscape for M&A mandates, unseating the firm from its top position will be extremely challenging for its competitors. In equity capital markets, 2021 was an exceptional year as global equity market activity rose 19% to a record $1.3 trillion in proceeds. Goldman Sachs retained its top position in issuance volume, with a 10% volume share; and in equity underwriting fees, which grew 17% to $3.7 billion and represent a 9% global market share, based on data from Refinitiv.  —DS

WESTERN EUROPE

BBVA

Offering a comprehensive range of services, BBVA is a consistent leader in global investment banking, with an increasing focus on ESG. Among many transactions completed in 2021, BBVA acted as joint bookrunner in Cellnex’s high-profile €7 billion ($7.8 billion) rights issue—one of the largest in Europe in 2021. The bank also participated as global co-coordinator in renewable-energy provider Grenergy’s €105 million accelerated book building.

During 2021, BBVA led more than 50 ESG bonds globally. In Europe, these included two inaugural bonds in the telecommunications sector (TIM in Italy and Telefónica in Spain), an inaugural social bond issued by Portugal’s Credito Agricola and a social bond issued by EDF in France. BBVA participated in the inaugural green-bond deals from Acea, A2A (Italy), ATOS, Rexel (France), Lanxess (Germany), REN (Portugal) and Acciona Energía (Spain). BBVA participated in Spanish high-yield transactions from Via Célere, AEDAS and Neinor Homes. Iberdrola, Red Eltrica, RWE, Snam, Engie, Enel, EDP and Daimler also tapped BBVA for their green deals. —DR

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