Pandemics, politics, price spikes and more—through it all, investment bankers kept up the deal-making.
With Year One of the global pandemic behind them, and having withstood the pressures of 2020, global investment banks strode through 2021, smashing numerous records along the way. Events so far this year threaten prospects for 2022: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has stalled the normal pace of bond and equity offerings, while spurring a flurry of financial disentanglement activity.
Still, it would be tough to surpass 2021, anyway. In mergers and acquisitions, deal-makers sealed a staggering all-time record $5.9 trillion in more than 63,000 transactions—up 64% on the prior year, according to Refinitiv. The US led the charge, with M&A up 82% over 2020. The technology sector saw the most activity—71% above the prior year—composing one-fifth of the total deal value.
Among the headline deals, Goldman Sachs acted as exclusive financial adviser to Microsoft in its $20 billion purchase of Nuance Communications, the software giant’s second-biggest deal after its 2016 purchase of LinkedIn for $26.2 billion.
Records were also broken in equity capital markets, where Refinitiv reports that global issuances set a new high of $1.3 trillion. Initial public offerings (IPOs) soared more than 80% to hit a lofty $413 billion. Again, the US took the greatest share: $150 billion. Global debt capital markets meanwhile topped $10.2 trillion, down 3% on the prior year after a retraction in the second half, but with a 2% increase in new offerings.
The first quarter saw by far the greatest IPO values, at $207.7 billion; and debuts picked up again in the fourth quarter to hit $145.7 billion, as reported by markets platform Dealogic. As bookrunner, Goldman Sachs notched the top numbers—280 deals worth $42.5 billion. Citi, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley and BofA completed the top five.
Finance, technology, health care, auto/truck manufacturing and transportation saw the most activity. The headline IPOs included the monumental $13.7 billion float of Rivian Automotive in the US, Kuaishou Technology’s $6.2 billion offering in Hong Kong, and Seoul-based Coupang’s $4.55 billion debut on the New York Stock Exchange, taking the top three spots.
Also among the top 10 were the hotly anticipated debuts of China’s car-hailing app DiDi; ($4.4 billion); Polish package-locker provider InPost, Europe’s biggest IPO since 2018 at $3.9 billion; and South Korean online game developer Krafton, the country’s largest IPO since 2010, at $3.8 billion.
The trend toward digitalization was already underway before the pandemic; but lockdowns and restrictions on face-to-face meeting certainly accelerated programs and plans, as remote became the new way of working and the use of cash fell. In the technology sector, the value of IPOs reached $158.3 billion for the year, while M&A topped $1.4 trillion. Goldman Sachs acted as bookrunner, alongside JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley, on a $14 billion senior notes offering for Apple; and advised on the purchase of research and information services company ProQuest by data and analytics provider Clarivate, in a $5.3 billion deal.
Among the other major trends moving markets over the course of the year has been the drive to meet environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals, transforming expectations of what was once labeled corporate responsibility. A recent Refinitiv poll suggests that two-thirds of deal-makers identify ESG as important.
Cornelia Andersson, group leader of Sustainable Finance and Investment at the London Stock Exchange Group, writes in a Refinitiv blog post that “this is a consequence of a ‘push-pull’ factor, from private sector pressure, particularly via major asset managers, as well as increasing regulatory oversight, such as the EU’s [Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation].”
“Earlier this year, we saw the UK government’s debt management department issuing the largest-ever green bond on the London Stock Exchange in a landmark deal that underlines the amount of investor appetite in this area,” Andersson writes. “We expect even more focus here in 2022, as the issue impacts how companies put capital to work.”
Another continued area of focus will be ongoing developments in Russia, which since the end of February have shifted the world on its axis. The reactions of global markets and market participants to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine demonstrate how geopolitical developments can quickly change fortunes.
Still, after the last year, investment bank cushions will be well stuffed. Total investment banking fees surged 22% to $159.4 billion. Data from Refinitiv shows fees at their highest point since records began in 2000. In all, the year’s sustained robust IB market proved a largely unanticipated boon amid the global chaos.
These, the 23rd annual Global Finance Investment Bank Awards, recognize the financial institutions driving these new records. This year’s competition drew more than 200 entries from 110 countries and territories representing all the regions of the globe.
Research and analysis were executed by Thomas Monteiro, Deborah Ritchie and David Sanders, who reviewed entries as well as other information. Global Finance editors reviewed their assessments and made the final selections. Monteiro, Ritchie and Sanders are the authors of the following pages; their individual contributions are indicated by initials.
Methodology: Behind the Rankings
Global Finance editors and researchers, with input from a range of executives, investors and consultants worldwide, used a series of criteria to select the winners of these awards, including market share, number, size and complexity of deals, service and advice, structuring capabilities, distribution network, efforts to address market conditions, innovation, aftermarket performance of underwritings and market reputation.
We used information provided by the banks, as well as material gathered from other sources, to score and select winners, based on a proprietary algorithm. Deals announced or completed in 2021 were considered.
In the review process, Global Finance considers full spectrum of banks, from relatively small ones in frontier markets that have barely appeared on Wall Street’s radar to global banks that lead the league tables for equity, debt and M&A worldwide.
This year, added weight has been assigned to flexibility and innovation in crisis response in light of the year’s unprecedented conditions.
Many winners submitted, in support of their applications, information and perspectives that may not be publicly available. Banks that do not submit entries can still be selected as winners through Global Finance’s review process, because editors execute their own unbiased original research in addition to evaluating entries. However, experience shows that the banks that submit entries successfully presenting themselves as model financial institutions, with detailed explanations of differentiation in services for corporate clients as compared with services provided by peers, achieve better results.
Financial institutions that submitted entries provided information in the following areas:
1) Key financials, including earnings, return on equity, and market share;
2) Details of key capabilities and services offered, including deal-structuring capabilities, distribution network and staff dedicated to investment banking;
3) Innovation in financing and new product introduction; and
4) Competitive pricing and after-market performance of underwritten securities. Global Finance adheres to journalistic best practices for protecting the confidentiality of information.
BEST INVESTMENT BANK BEST EQUITY BANK
Global investment banks were buoyed by a robust operating environment characterized by strong deal flow and surging financial markets in 2021, resulting in record fee income that rose 22% year over year to $159 billion, according to Refinitiv. “Investment banking had an extraordinary year as clients remained incredibly active,” Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon noted in the firm’s fourth-quarter 2021 earnings call.
Goldman Sachs is our 2022 choice for global overall Best Investment Bank, also taking a handful of other awards, particularly for its strength in M&A and in the high-octane technology sector. Goldman takes the prize for global Best Equity Bank, Best Invesment Bank in North America and Best for Technology, among others.
The firm generated record full-year revenue of $59 billion and record net income of $21.6 billion, representing a 60% increase over its previous all-time highs. These results, Solomon said, “demonstrate that our client-oriented strategy is working.” —DS
BEST FOR IPOS
The IPO award faced fierce competition among peer institutions for the top slot. In a blockbuster year for initial public offerings, strong investor demand propelled issuance volume up 83% to a record $413 billion, according to Refinitiv. Companies across all sectors aggressively tapped a market that was underpinned by a rebounding economy, strong market sentiment and improved consumer confidence, with such sectors as technology, health care and industrials leading the issuance volume.
JPMorgan Chase is our choice as Best Bank for IPOs for 2022, as the firm capitalized on this robust market and its deep industry expertise ranging across many sectors to become the top issuer in global IPO proceeds, at $39.6 billion, with market share that doubled year over year, to 9%, Refinitiv data show.
In the US, JPMorgan claimed the number one spot in IPO proceeds, with $23.6 billion, for a share of 20%—double the prior year. JPMorgan participated in notable deals including Rivian Automotive’s (electric vehicles) $13.7 billion debut, and the IPOs of Shoals Technologies (a maker of solar energy components), Robinhood (the online brokerage) and VICI Properties (a real estate investment trust), each of which was in the $2 billion to $4 billion range. —DS
BEST FOR EMERGING MARKETS
Emerging market economies are more vulnerable to some of the challenges arising from the Covid-19 pandemic and rebounded more slowly than developed economies.
Through its best-in-breed advisory service across Southeast Asia, DBS—our Best in Emerging Markets—posted a 44% rise in profitability for the year, outpacing competitors. The bank’s excellence in diversified Asian markets was a key factor behind its largest deals, namely the $4.5 billion Singapore Airlines rights issue, the $1.1 billion Star Energy Green note and the $1 billion Lenovo group bond issuance. Despite interest rates rising in most emerging market countries during the year—unlike in developed economies—the bank was able to post a 9% rise in loan profitability, its largest gain in a decade. —TM
BEST FOR FRONTIER MARKETS
Standard Chartered Bank
With its broad and well-established geographic footprint and its expertise across a range of industries, Standard Chartered is this year’s Best in Frontier Markets. The bank’s long tenure in smaller and underdeveloped capital markets in Asia, the Middle East and Africa reflects its commitment in these regions. One example from its substantial portfolio in Africa: Standard Chartered was a bookrunner on Nigeria’s $4 billion eurobond issuance in September 2021, a significant transaction for the country.
In the Middle East, the bank advised on several important transactions in the energy sector. One in Jordan focused on renewable sources, for example, another, in Oman, involved the utility sector and electricity distribution. In addition to institutional clients, the bank also advises the ministries of finance in frontier countries, with sovereign debt financings in both conventional and sukuk offerings, and syndicated loans. —DS
BEST MULTILATERAL FINANCE INSTITUTION
African Development Bank
African Development Bank exemplifies best-in-class leadership in promoting economic expansion across the continent through a comprehensive strategy, effective execution of programs and collaboration with a wide range of partners. We name African Development Bank the year’s Best Multilateral Finance Institution. The bank continues to demonstrate its ability to enact far-reaching programs through grants and loans across its 81 member countries.
In February, the bank’s Leveraging Energy Access Finance program announced it will commit $164 million to finance 18 decentralized renewable energy projects in six African countries, accelerating access for six million people and businesses while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The bank has partnered with a consortium of development agencies and global partners to create an Alliance for Green Infrastructure in Africa, which aims to raise $500 million and ultimately generate up to $10 billion in investment for sustainable infrastructure. The bank is currently defining a new 10-year strategy to foster sustainable economic expansion across the continent. —DS
BEST CLIENT-FACING TECHNOLOGY
Rand Merchant Bank
Continuing to innovate in the investment banking sector to enhance its service offerings, Rand Merchant Bank (RMB), the investment banking division of South African banking group FirstRand, launched Intengo, a digital marketplace for the issuance and investment of listed and unlisted investment-grade corporate debt instruments. The goal of the platform is to provide greater liquidity and transparency for institutional clients, with a range of features including facilitating debt issuance through private placements and online auctions, providing market insights, live tracking of auction allocation and results, coordinating deal settlement with custodians and enhanced documentation and archiving.
At the time of the October 2021 launch, Emrie Brown, head of RMB’s Banking Division, explained: “Intengo will augment both the origination capabilities as well as the investment opportunities for our issuers and investors as clients in the primary and secondary market.” By streamlining an inherently manual and inefficient process, RMB is providing its clients with a robust platform that also serves as a catalyst to advance growth in South Africa’s corporate bond market and wins this year’s nod for Best Bank for Client-Facing Technology. —DS
BEST INVESTMENT BANK FOR SUSTAINABLE FINANCE
European banking group Societe Generale, SocGen, put its best foot forward in 2021 with its “Positive Impact by Design” approach that commits to integrating ESG at the core of all its business.
With expertise in advisory, energy, infrastructure, asset finance and investment solutions, the bank developed a range of sustainable, innovative products across a broad range of asset classes for clients across the globe and led on numerous projects and notable deals worldwide—from Europe, the US and Australia to Japan, India and China.
SocGen’s global presence and particular strength in the energy sector positions the French stalwart as a natural partner in the global transition to renewable energy, and it is well placed to support the development of new clean-energy solutions.
Further underlining its commitment to sustainability in the judging year, the banking group founded the UNEP-FI Net-Zero Banking Alliance, through which it will align its portfolios with trajectories aiming at carbon neutrality by 2050. It also joined with five other lenders to the steel industry in the Steel Climate-Aligned Finance Working Group to drive decarbonization of the sector. —DR
BEST FOR NEW FINANCIAL PRODUCTS (BANK)
Two main business trends washed over Latin American capital markets in 2021: the monumental rise in commodity prices and record-breaking investment levels in new financial products, in both retail and corporate finance.
Our winner for Best Bank for New Financial Products, BTG Pactual, responded to those trends by providing corporates with new capabilities. BTG’s new “Teva Brazilian Commodity Index” marks a breakthrough for the region’s agribusiness. The fund allows hedging and future-planning operations in the Brazilian agricultural market, therefore minimizing seasonal and climate-related profitability fluctuations.
Also, on the ESG spectrum, BTG launched a fixed income secured deposit capability that aims to capture around $300 billion in sustainable investing throughout the year. BTG’s innovation business hub (boostLAB), one of the world’s leading fintech labs, funded more than 50 startups working on developing new financial tools and products.
“BTG Pactual is honored for the recognition as the Best Bank for New Financial Products by Global Finance,” says Rodrigo Cury, head of Consumer Banking of BTG Pactual. “This award demonstrates that having a complete financial solution, a customer-centered journey and an easy-to-use digital experience is a winning strategy.” —TM
GLOBAL WINNERS BY SECTOR
BEST FOR FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS
The global financial-institution market rebounded sharply in 2021, as cash-rich financial institutions expanded, driving M&A, IPO, and equity-offering activities to new all-time highs. Global figures are staggering. Finance-sector IPOs rose 110% year on year, equity offerings an approximate 70%, and M&A by 34%.
In this once-in-a-lifetime market, our choice for the Best for Financial Institutions, UBS, stood out for its strong and diversified global presence, enabling it to produce unique insights for its finance-sector colleagues in numerous domestic and cross-border deals. China-based ICBC’s $6.16 billion capital bonds offering and Prudential’s $2.4 billion primary offering on the Hong Kong stock exchange are among the bank’s top deals for the year. The bank was also the global coordinator for the $1.64 billion offering of Greece-based Piraeus Group. Furthermore, UBS showed leadership in developing ESG strategies to ensure the long-term health of financial institutions, providing top tier advising for clients in core and developing markets. —TM
BEST FOR INDUSTRIALS/CHEMICALS
2021 was an unusual year for the global industrials and chemicals industry, with unprecedented liquidity for large and midsize companies opening extraordinary expansion opportunities, while at the same time, rising inflation and labor shortages truncated such plans. With its long-time expertise in Asian markets and internationally renowned cross-border capabilities, DBS excelled by assisting corporates through this uncharted environment, advising some of the sector’s largest deals and earning the nod as Best Investment Bank for Industrials/Chemicals.
In Singapore, BDS worked as joint global coordinator and bookrunner for two of the largest equity offerings in the sector, namely Mapletree Industrial’s $388 million offering in May and $229 million offering in June. In China, DBS managed some of the greatest debt offerings of the year: BAIC Motor Corporation Limited ($350 million), China Railway Construction Corporation Limited ($300 million), and Metallurgical Corporation of China ($500 million) are the standouts. —TM
BEST FOR INFRASTRUCTURE
In one of the world’s largest energy infrastructure deals, Standard Chartered Bank acted as adviser in the sale by Saudi Aramco of a 49% stake in its oil pipeline network to an investor group led by EIG Global Energy Partners, in a $12.4 billion lease-and-lease-back deal. The newly formed Aramco subsidiary, Aramco Oil Pipelines, agreed to lease usage rights to the network for a 25-year period. Standard Chartered acted as sole financial adviser to Vision International Investment, advising on all aspects including valuation, due diligence, board engagement, transaction negotiation and stakeholder management. Standard Chartered further acted as bookrunner and mandated lead arranger for a $10.8 billion acquisition bridge financing to support the transaction, as well as hedging bank for a deal contingent and long-term credit hedge.
The bank also helped Angola’s Ministry of Finance fund a $1.1 billion financing project to develop and improve water infrastructure in Angola, in one of largest single term-loan financings provided by commercial banks for an African sovereign during 2021. The project also contributes toward the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 64, relating to access to clean drinking water and sanitation. —DR
BEST FOR METALS AND MINING
BMO Capital continued its unrivaled dominance in metals and mining last year and earns the Global Finance nod for Best Investment Bank in the sector for the 13th consecutive year. In 2021, BMO capitalized on a strong M&A environment in metals and mining, leading the industry in advising on 15 transactions totaling $16.5 billion in value, representing 60% of announced transactions. These deals included the largest gold transaction in history, in which BMO advised Kirkland Lake on its $10.7 billion merger with Agnico Eagle, creating the top Canadian gold producer.
As BMO notes, key industry trends include a focus on ESG. Many of the sector’s largest players are setting carbon-reduction targets, and the bank structured more than $5 billion worth of sustainability-linked notes and credit facilities for clients. The accelerating transition to electric vehicles has contributed to rising metals prices to meet rising demand for batteries and other applications, and BMO has responded by boosting its research coverage of the battery-metals sector to deepen its client relationships.
Equity issuance was also very active in precious metals, base metals and steel, particularly in North America and Australia. Against this backdrop, BMO claimed the top spot in North American equity issuance with $1.1 billion in proceeds. —DS
BEST FOR POWER/ENERGY
Absa, our selection as the Best Investment Bank in the power and energy sector, has arranged key advisory and financing mandates across its footprint, with innovative projects particularly in renewables. Based in South Africa, the bank partnered with African Rainbow Energy & Power in forming a $450 million fund that will support renewable energy development there. This development does much to address South Africa’s energy shortage, expands its renewable energy base and forms one of the largest independently owned energy businesses in the country.
Absa also led the refinancing of three renewable energy projects for African power producer Globeleq, representing $300 million in aggregate. Absa is active in solar energy and participated in the $325 million refinancing for ACWA Power and in the $750 million financing for Redstone Concentrated Solar Power. Additionally, the bank participated in a $300 million funding package for Trans-Niger Oil & Gas (TNOG) for the acquisition and development of oil and gas assets in Nigeria and advised South Africa’s Exxaro Resources in the sale of its coal assets as it moves to a net-zero carbon footprint. —DS
BEST FOR TECHNOLOGY
In a hot year, tech was among the hottest sectors. Throughout 2021, Goldman Sachs benefited from a bumper year for multiple billion-dollar acquisitions in tech, acting as exclusive financial adviser to Microsoft in its $20 billion purchase of transcription-software developer Nuance Communications. The deal got a green light from EU regulators just before the end of the year, after months of deliberation as a result of heightened antitrust scrutiny. It was the software giant’s second-biggest deal since its 2016 purchase of LinkedIn for $26.2 billion.
Goldman Sachs was also a bookrunner on Apple’s $14 billion senior note offering. Across the pond, Goldman helped UK-based data and analytics provider Clarivate complete its strategic acquisition of global software, content, data and analytics provider ProQuest in a $5.3 billion deal. The tech innovator secured a backstop a $4 billion fully committed bridge facility from Goldman Sachs and Citi. Goldman Sachs acted as lead financial adviser to ProQuest with support from UBS and Morgan Stanley. —DR