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Awards / Treasury & Capital Markets
Sustainable Finance Awards 2024: Revealing the best in Asia
Evening of celebration honours the best advisers and sustainable finance deals in a challenging year
The Asset 13 Mar 2024

Executives of some of Asia’s leading companies and financial institutions packed the grand ballroom of Four Seasons Hotel in Hong Kong on Tuesday night (March 12) to celebrate the regional winners of The Asset Triple A Sustainable Finance Awards 2024.

The atmosphere was electric as the winners were revealed in an Oscars-style ceremony that highlighted the achievements organizations have made over the past year in further incorporating sustainability into their financing plans and day-to-day operations.

Taking the top award for the second year in a row was DBS, which was honoured as the Best Bank for Sustainable Finance for its efforts in internalizing sustainability within its ranks and internal processes and advising clients, including corporates and high-net-worth individuals, on their transition towards more environmentally friendly and socially responsible practices.

This ESG-focused mindset and overall corporate direction proved successful for the Singapore-headquartered bank, which was able to deliver impressive financial results, reporting a 26% increase in net profit in 2023 compared with the previous year.

Within DBS a standout segment has been its loan syndication team, which has been a steadfast partner for several of the leading corporates in Asia, resulting in a deepening wallet share with existing clients. Moreover, the bank has been proactive in bringing Asian liquidity to Western-based corporates, advising a number of debut borrowers and taking part in leading ESG-themed financings. The bank is a repeat winner of the Best Loan Adviser award.

Société Générale garnered the Best ESG Bank award for demonstrating an active commitment to responsible finance, ethical business engagement and social awareness. During the review period, the bank emphasized the importance of collective intelligence and cross-sectoral expertise internally to be able to deliver better advisory service to clients on their respective sustainability journeys. The bank continues to take part in a number of influential working groups and associations in Asia as well.

Staunchly defending its position in a number of categories, Citi picked up the awards for Best Corporate and Institutional Bank, Best Equity Adviser and Best M&A Adviser. Amid geopolitical tensions, rising interest rates and weak market sentiment, the bank remained busy during the review period, taking part in a number landmark transactions by leveraging its regional footprint to originate deals. In particular, the bank was outstanding in equity capital market transactions despite the IPO downturn in markets such as Hong Kong, being joint global coordinator in LG Chem’s US$2 billion exchangeable bond deal and placing agent in ANTA’s US$1.5 billion follow-on offering.

Citi’s M&A franchise was also a standout in 2023, having closed challenging deals across multiple sectors, including Boston Scientific’s 65% stake acquisition of Acotec Scientific for US$500 million, the only acquisition of a Chinese-listed company by a multinational in the past five years.

With the rising importance of emerging corporates, The Asset last year inaugurated the Best Commercial Bank award category and selected Citi as its debut winner. During the review period, Citi displayed its ability to support mid-sized clients in multiple markets from India to Hong Kong, offering them a diverse array of services from game-changing fundraising to cash management services.

Standard Chartered, which has been progressively active as a leader in crafting impactful sustainable finance deals, bagged the award for Best Sustainable Finance Adviser, beating out a crowded field of competitors due to its involvement in a diverse range of sustainable deals. In 2023, the bank, whether through its bond or loan syndication team, was able to advise on complex green, social or sustainability-linked transactions. Some key deals where the bank led the advisory work was MISC Berhad’s US$527 million sustainability-linked term loan facility and the Republic of the Philippines’ US$1.25 billion sustainability bond.

Crédit Agricole won the Best Green Finance Adviser award, having been a key stakeholder in several leading deals in the region. With a strong foothold in North Asia, the bank gained from the G3 deal flow activity coming from Chinese financial institutions and governments in the region. Notable deals for the bank included New Development Bank’s US$1.25 billion green bond and China Hongqiao Group’s HK$2.33 billion equivalent syndicated sustainability-linked loan.   

MUFG secured the Best Social Impact Adviser award for showing its expertise in advising clients seeking financing to attain their social development goals such as gender equality and financial inclusion. A standout deal with the Tokyo-based bank was the work it did for the State Bank of India on coordinating its US$1 billion social loan, the largest ESG loan by a commercial bank in the region and second largest social loan globally.

In the highly competitive second party opinion (SPO) space, Moody’s Ratings provides one of the most comprehensive and in-depth analyses of sustainable finance frameworks of issuers. In 2023, the firm was active in markets such as South Korea, reviewing companies such as SK hynix and LG Energy Solution. The company won the award for Best Second Party Opinion Provider.

SMBC has been a proactive player in the debt space, providing clients with several impactful solutions to meet their financing requirements. During the review period, the bank helped clients across multiple markets from India to the Philippines. Finding new types of structures for borrowers has been a key strength of the bank. These include introducing Samurai financing or involving export credit agencies in co-financing structures. SMBC is this year’s Best Debt Adviser.

Bagging the award for Best G3 Bond Adviser was HSBC. Its expansive franchise saw the bank take part in a number of market-defining deals. Although G3 bond volumes dropped by around 20% year-on-year in 2023, HSBC remained relevant to clients. The bank, for example, was an active participant in several key bond deals in South Korea, including Korea Eximbank’s blue bond and SK hynix’s sustainability-linked bond. HSBC showed consistency in service quality in other regions such as Greater China and Southeast Asia as well.

With the growing importance of local currency funding in the region, several banks tweaked their businesses to capture the deal flow. Punching above its weight, UOB stood out in a competitive category to win the Best Local Currency Bond Adviser award. The bank demonstrated its ability to lead bond deals across multiple currencies in the region, primarily within Southeast Asia. With the strength in Singapore dollar bonds, UOB also showcased its expertise in Malaysian ringgit and Thai baht bonds as its franchise in Hong Kong dollar bonds grew.    

Repeat winner BNP Paribas secured the Best Securitization Adviser award, having led the way with a number of key deals across China, South Korea and Japan. In Asia’s largest securitization market China, the bank was a financial adviser in several key auto loan transactions. The bank has also looked to embed ESG into its product offerings, and in 2023 closed green RMBS, green auto ABS, social ABS and social covered bonds.

For the full list of Sustainable Finance Awards 2024 winners please go here.

To see the official gallery of the event please go here.

Andy Suen
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