Attractive and exciting in its diversity, Southeast Asia is home to dynamic companies that capitalize on its relatively young population, rapidly growing wealth, and generally neutral stance in the ongoing geopolitical tensions between China and the United States.
In particular, banks in the region have shown zeal and versatility in seeking ways to adapt to challenging conditions and maintain reliable services to cater to the needs of their clients.
During the review period for The Asset Triple A Country Awards 2021, we at The Asset were pleased to see several leading banks in the region not only enhance their services to end-users but also record fee income growth despite the market volatility caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
When it comes to capital markets development, Southeast Asia has seen its fair share of interesting and landmark transactions from sizable initial public offerings in the Philippines to industry-shifting M&A deals in Singapore.
The region has also witnessed the rise of the retail investor as ordinary individuals look for ways to bolster their income by playing a more proactive role in the local capital markets.
Vietnam, for one, continues to offer enticing opportunities for investors, and has seen steady increases in foreign direct investment (FDI). According to the country’s Ministry of Planning and Investment, FDI flow rose 6.8% in June 2021 from a year earlier.
This has translated into notable capital markets activity with foreign entities looking to gain exposure to the country’s largest business names such as Masan Group, which sold a 5.5% stake in its consumer retail platform CrownX to Alibaba and Baring Private Equity Asia.
In view of its geography, Southeast Asia is being increasingly impacted by weather events linked to climate change. That being the case, sustainable finance is becoming a major focus of attention for both issuers and investors in the region, especially following the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) late last year.
During the review period, issuers, whether based in Indonesia, Malaysia or Thailand, continued map out their sustainability agenda using financing as a key tool to achieve their environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals.
Sustainability-linked bonds have grown in prominence in the region, with issuers providing financial assurances to investors that they are observing responsible practices that are measurable and verifiable. Some notable deals in the region include Thai Union Group’s sustainability-linked bond amounting to 5 billion baht (US$150 million) and Japfa Comfeed Indonesia’s US$350 million issuance.
Several equity transactions in Southeast Asia have also stood out. In the Philippines, the Converge ICT and Monde Nissin IPOs generated sizable demand from investors. Real estate investment trust (Reit) listings also gained popularity in the country over the past year amid the pandemic.
Singapore, the region’s most developed market, saw a sizable increase in G3 bond issuances. On the financial regulatory front, the Singapore Exchange (SGX) became the first major bourse in Asia to allow the listing of special purpose acquisition companies (Spacs) to capture some of the activity of Asian-sponsored Spacs initially looking to list in the US.
With all the exciting developments happening in the region, expect Southeast Asia to continue to play a significant role in capital market development in Asia as issuers look for new ways to raise funds and engage with international investors in the coming years.
For the complete list of winning advisers in Southeast Asia please click here.
For the complete list of winning deals in Southeast Asia please click here.
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Throughout this week, The Asset will be revealing the winners of the Triple A Country Awards 2021. Stay tuned for more results on theasset.com.