FinanceAsia Achievement Awards 2023: The rationale behind Asia's best houses

Read the rationale behind the winners of the best houses in Asia for the FinanceAsia Achievement Awards 2023.

FinanceAsia Achievement Awards 2023: The rationale behind Asia's best houses

Welcome to the winners of Asia's Best Houses in our FinanceAsia Achievement Awards 2023. In another challenging year for Asia’s markets as the world’s investment community dealt with higher for longer interest rates and an unexpected slowdown in China, the winners proved they had the flexibility and staying power to adapt amid intense competition. Our annual Awards covered the period from October 1, 2022 to September 30, 2023 and are split into four major categories.

Now in our 27th edition, the quality of the awards’ entries continues to improve, giving our judges a tough time when choosing the winners. We had more than 680 high-calibre entries from a combination of banks, other financial institutions, rating agencies and law firms, which showcased the very best of Asia Pacific’s financial markets. 

We also this year for the first time introduced our DealMaker Poll Awards -- the winners are here

The firms listed below are based on the entries and additional research from FA; it is not necessarily a complete list.

Congratulations to the winners of the Awards – the success is very well deserved. We would also like to thank all the firms that entered, and to our judges:

Gabriel Wilson-Otto  – head of sustainable investing strategy, Fidelity International

Hironobu Nakamura – chief investment officer, Asset Management One Alternative Investments (AMOIA)

Wivinia Luk – senior manager (policy research), Financial Services Development Council (FSDC)



Moody’s Investors Service

There’s a reason Moody’s Investors Service (Moody’s) is one of the top ratings agencies globally. As of July 2023, the agency boasted rated debt of more than $73 trillion, of which $9 trillion is in Asia Pacific. The agency covers approximately 87% of debt coverage in the region.

But size is not everything. Moody’s scored a series of big deals in the year, giving it the edge over rivals.

In May 2023, it rated (A3) Khazanah Capital’s $10 billion-worth euro MTN programme and sukuk; assigned a senior debt rating of A1 to Mizuho Financial Group’s subsidiary banks, aligning it with the group’s own rating;  and assigned a Baa1 unsecured rating to Pioneer Reward, a subsidiary of China’s Huatai Securities, rating the renminbi bonds at the same level as the parent company’s long-term issuer rating.

Also worth noting is Moody’s comprehensive ESG credit analysis – an increasingly important component of an agency’s work and especially complex in a region as diverse as Asia Pacific. 


Société Générale

The French bank ended up as number 10 in the Asia (ex-Japan) G3 DCM league table, having risen from 27th and 17th in 2021 and 2022, respectively. This remarkable rise is down to Société Générale’s focussed commitment on high quality advisory and execution and a key reason for winning the accolade.

A prize new client included Singapore’s Temasek, becoming a bookrunner on the €1.5 billion ($1.65 billion) deal, a first for the sovereign wealth fund in this currency since 2019. It’s fair to say the issuer was very pleased with the bank’s performance. 

The bank’s reputation for underwriting high-profile green bonds is well known and why it won new business from the likes of India’s ReNew Power and the Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power, both US dollar debt raisings.

With little bank capital supply in the year, ANZ’s €1 billion Sustainable Development Goals tier-2 notes provided something to talk about, one of very few regulatory capital deals with ESG targets attached. Société Générale was joint bookrunner.



During a tricky period for the equity capital markets, Citi managed to secure top spot as the number one bank for equity and equity-linked transactions throughout Asia, having raised $16 billion for its clients.

But league tables fail to appreciate the nature of the year and the need for excellent timing and execution. Citi excelled here too.

The bank was lead on Indonesia’s nickel miner TBP’s $659 million IPO in March. Overcoming concerns about bank market stability, the deal achieved a subscription ratio of 2.4 times. It was the biggest IPO of the year to date and the largest in the metals and mining sector in 12 years.

China Vanke’s $502 million placement ticked the same execution box. The H-share deal launched just as stock markets rebounded, China offered policy support and PMI data perked up buoying the Hang Seng index.

Citi also acted as coordinator and bookrunner on LG Chem’s $2 billion exchangeable bond offering, the largest ever in Asia Pacific.



The year proved to be fascinating for UBS. Principal actor to a staggering banking acquisition, the investment bank managed to maintain impressive momentum within all the key capital market league tables in Asia, including DCM where competition is fierce.

Although the purchase of Credit Suisse played a key part in this success, the depth and breadth of dealmaking the bank was involved in gave it the edge over its US rivals.

Standout deals included the $1.5 billion primary top-up placement of Hong Kong’s Anta Sports, where UBS was sole overall coordinator and lead left joint placement agent. It was the largest Hong Kong consumer placement in history and the first deal under CSRC’s offshore placement /issuance regime.

UBS was the lead bank on the $618 million IPO of Indonesia’s Merdeka Battery Materials in April. It was the second largest IPO of a nickel and battery materials company ever and the second largest of a base metals company within Southeast Asia.

It will be very interesting to see how 2024 plays out for the bank. The Swiss bank had a hand in some of the the most important M&A transactions over the last 12 months.

The bank was involved in Fubon Bank’s disposal of a minority stake in China Union Pay to Shanghai International Group; was an advisor to Sichuan Chuantou Energy Company on its purchase of 10% of Dadu River Hydropower Development Company; and advised Unicharm on its 41.85% investment into Jijia Pet Products.

Further afield, UBS was the exclusive advisor to Schneider Electric on the €723 million ($800 million) sale of Telemecanique Sensors to Yageo Corporation; advised Chubb on a $2.7 billion deal for a 64.2% stake in Huatai Insurance; and was exclusive financial advisor to ECARX on its initial business combination with COVA Acquisition Corp, valuing ECARX at $3.4 billion pre money.

That was just a slice of the activity UBS was involved in, spanning the whole Asia Pacific region – and why it is a worthy winner of both accolades this year.



Somewhat of a connoisseur of the complex capital market transaction, Linklaters had a very stimulating year – working on vital market firsts and pushing the boundaries of existing areas, such as digital assets, ESG and the digital economy.

One standout deal was the HK$800 million ($100 million) tokenised green bond issued by the Hong Kong government. Advising the joint lead managers and trustee, the transaction paved the way for more digital bond offerings in the SAR and was a landmark deal, being the first tokenised green bond by a government issuer ever.

In M&A, Linklaters advised Citi on the sale of its consumer banking franchise in Asia and EMEA to multiple banks throughout the region – the lawyer was involved in running seven auction processes simultaneously.

Regarding market infrastructure, Linklaters advised the HKEX on the establishment of Swap Connect, which was launched in May 2023 and allows global investors easier access to China’s renminbi interest rate swap market.



Creating value and showing market leadership within trying times is what can set a lender out against its peers. Three very important relationships with Reliance Group entities, Indonesia’s Pertamina and Sutherland, an AI-focussed business process outsourcing (BPO) company, exemplifed why DBS justifies its status as Asia’s best lender.

In the case of Reliance Industries and Reliance Jio Infocomm, DBS acted as sole global coordinator lead arranger on the Indian conglomerate’s first loan syndication since 2020, raising nearly $3 billion, making it India’s largest corporate syndicated loan; an additional $2 billion was subsequently raised.

DBS also secured three back-to-back coordinate mandates in a row, both onshore and offshore, for energy company Pertamina, of which $2.8 billion of syndicated term facilities were arranged within the awards period.

Off the back of the success of its inaugural $525 million syndicated facilities, of which DBS was the sole mandated lead arranger, Sutherland offered DBS a coordinator role for a $200 million accordion facility. Both facilities were well syndicated to a range of banks, despite the issuer’s private ownership structure. 


360 ONE Asset

360 ONE Asset is undoubtedly one of the best home-grown private equity managers in India, and with its array of deal making throughout the year, a worth winner for the regional award. 

The manager was especially proud of its Rs575 crore ($70 million) investment into Indian private hospital chain Kauvery Hospitals, which resulted in a pre-tax return on capital employed of near 24% in 2022.

The manager also staked its commitment to gender equality with a Rs8 crore ($900,000) investment in HerKey, an online platform supporting women’s professional development. The company claims to have helped approximately 3.5 million Indian women across the country.

Other interesting deals signed within the awards period, include the Rs200 crore ($24 million) investment in Course5i, a highly profitable data and analytics provider, which generates almost two thirds of its revenue from Fortune 500 and Forbes 2000 companies.

360 ONE Asset also boasts an impressive co-investor network, including General Atlantic, BlackRock, Warburg Pincus, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs and Temasek, to name a handful.



The Singaporean bank closed an impressive 21 deals during the awards period. But it’s not the number that caught FinanceAsia’s eye – it’s the commitment to supporting net-zero ambitions while financing some very challenging renewable projects in the region.

Key deals include the structuring and financing of the largest solar projects out of Bangladesh by China Huadian. The country expects to exceed 42GW of electricity demand by 2030 while the government hopes to generate nearly 40GW in solar capacity by 2041. This project is crucial in attaining that target.

In Indonesia, DBS advised and financed the winning bid to build out 1.2 million smart meters to better understand consumption habits and support a shift to green energy.

In the transition sector, DBS participated in the A$320 million ($219 million) incremental facility for Australia’s Zenith Energy to underpin micro-grid solar and wind power generation solutions to the mining sector – one that traditionally relies on diesel and gas due to lack of off-grid connection.



The range of UOB’s clients offers a clear insight into the trust they place in the Singaporean bank. From corporates, like Singapore’s Capitaland REITs, non-banking financial institutions, such as Mirae Asset Global Investments and sovereign wealth funds, including GIC. 

UOB’s geographic breadth is impressive also, managing deals, in multiple currencies, across Asia Pacific, in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, mainland China, Thailand, Australia and Japan.

During the awards period, UOB was able to work on a range of deals within DCM, securitisation, M&A and ECM. It was joint lead manager on the Hong Kong Mortgage Corporation’s jumbo HK$9.5 billion ($1.2 billion) 2-year unsecured social notes landmark deal focussed on key social outcomes, for example.

Other stand-out transactions include warehouse logistics company GLP’s $600 million sustainability-linked revolving credit facility. UOB was mandated lead arranger and sole lead sustainability coordinator. GLP intends to draw on the facility to invest in green assets.



Nomura has long held a strong reputation for financial innovation. Evidence of this is the ability to win repeat business from highly regarded sponsors, including Advent, Blackstone, CVC, BPEA EQT and KKR. In the case of Advent, Nomura secured three trades with them in 2023, tied to The Learning Lab, Suven Pharma, and retailer Zimmermann.

In the case of The Learning Lab, Nomura was sole lead on a S$265 million ($200 million) unitranche refinancing. For Zimmermann, it was a $240 million dual-tranche finance deal provided to Advent to acquire the retailer.

Another notable deal was the $1.82 billion term-loan B financing for BPEA EQT to support the acquisition of corporate service companies Tricor and Vistra, one of the largest ever of its type to originate in Asia.

All told, Nomura was able to secure around $4 billion in aggregate funding across 12 deals for its clients during the awards period.


Crédit Agricole CIB

Crédit Agricole CIB’s influence on some of the most important ESG and sustainability-linked debt deals in the region is what gives it the green edge over its peers.

One of two SGS advisors on the Asia’s largest social bond issuance, the bank played a pivotal role in the Hong Kong Mortgage Corporation’s triple currency deal used to refinance loans tied to SME financing.

It was also the joint green structuring bank for the first tokenised green bond to be issued by a sovereign – Hong Kong’s HK$800 million ($100 million) deal which concluded in February 2023 – while playing a hand in the first sustainability-linked bond issued by a semiconductor manufacturer, SK Hynix.

Being innovative and providing sound strategic advice is key in sustainable finance. Which is why Crédit Agricole CIB’s role in supporting new taxonomies, such as it did for Bank of Communications (Hong Kong), or providing advisory services for Korean National Oil Corporation, for example, are just as important as the funding itself.


Openspace Ventures

Openspace clearly enjoys its reputation as a pioneering VC. Co-headquartered in Singapore and Indonesia, Openspace invests series A through to D in companies through Southeast Asia. As of the halfway point in 2023, the investor’s internal rate of return (IRR) reached 20%, beating the market average by seven percentage points.

A standout investment is Halodoc, a telemedicine platform in Indonesia which has 70% market share in the country. Having invested during its series A round, Halodoc recently closed its series D funding, led by Astra International and raising $100 million.

Openspace also invested in Lucence in 2023, a Singapore-based biopsy company focussed on cancer detection and treatment – it is the first Asia-headquartered healthcare service to lock in US Medicare coverage.

In the Philippines, Openspace invested pre-series A in Pickup Coffee, a specialty coffee provider. Since investing in September 2022, Pickup’s annual recurring revenue (ARR) increased more than tenfold while it has also expanded its geographic coverage by a similar ratio.


Reliance Industries

2023 was a busy year for the conglomerate, which has significant interests in the oil and gas, retail and textiles business. Within the awards period, India’s largest private company achieved $14.5 billion in financing via term loans and export credit agency backed deals at the group level.

Via both Reliance Industries and Reliance Jio Infocomm (RJIL), Reliance was able to secure up to $5 billion worth of syndicated term loan facilities, the first $3 billion being obtained through 15 banks and the remainder secured through the additional liquidity within the syndication.

All told, it made it the largest capex-linked syndicated loan in Asia Pacific (ex-Japan) in 2023 and the largest ever to come out of India. Curiously, $1.25 billion was raised via 19 Taiwanese lenders.

On the ECA side, RJIL locked in $4.4 billion for the purchase of 5G equipment and capex through Sweden’s EKN, Finland’s Finnvera, and the Export Development Canada. Broken down, $2.16 billion was covered for business with Ericsson – the largest cover provided by EKN – and $2.2 billion for business linked to Nokia.


Swire Properties

In July 2023, Hong Kong-based Swire Properties closed a CNH3.2 billion ($450 million) green dim sum bond, split between two tranches of different tenors. The deal was the first ever Hong Kong corporate green dim sum bond and marked the return to the public dim sum bond market of a Hong Kong corporate, since 2019.

The choice of currency was directly linked to the widening of China-US policy rate differentials, but the proceeds of the bonds are firmly embedded in ESG principles; they will go to fund or refinance investments set out in the company’s Green Bond Framework – energy efficiency, renewable energy, sustainable water, climate change adaptation and more.

Swire Properties is a leader in ESG fund raising in Hong Kong. With a vision to reach net zero via green financing and top the charts on sustainable development within its peer group by 2030, the developer issued a $500 million green bond in 2018 and the first HK$500 million ($63 million) sustainability-linked loan in 2019. Approximately 60% of Swire Properties’ current bond and loan facilities now come from green financing.



Foresight is a quality many financial institutions like to claim ownership of, and UOB’s story is one where its executives in its treasury department used it to good effect.

In winning this award, we need to look back as far as 2020 to appreciate some of the important funding decisions that were taken that led to the benefits yielded within the official awards period.

Concern over the medium-term impact of the pandemic on the economy and markets was a key trigger for the Singaporean  bank's subsequent funding activities. Looking to shore up its balance sheet before the anticipated withdrawal of government fiscal measures, UOB looked to start raising capital and move its typical funding tenors to near eight years, while spreads were relatively tight between 2020 an early 2022. 

Other more recent strategic successes include raising a A$1.5 billion ($1 billion) dual-tranche bond to support its Sydney operations and a string of groundbreaking THB-denominated bond issuances across senior, Tier 2 and AT1 in the last 15 months.