After a summer dominated by volatile stock markets and mainland IPO freezes, Hong Kong’s legions of equity capital markets (ECM) bankers are now facing a busier end to the year with a string of local listings either launched or in pipeline.
Last week China Huarong Asset Management and China Reinsurance started pitching Hong Kong IPOs worth up to a combined US$5bn, a sign, according to Reuters, of improving confidence in market conditions. Meanwhile, mainland companies IMAX China and Regina Miracle have enjoyed strong listing debuts in the territory.
Who are the leading ECM bankers reaping the rewards of a (tentatively) recovering market? Headhunters in Hong Kong and an investment banking consultant, speaking to us on condition of anonymity, have identified some of the leading players.
Morgan Stanley’s twin rainmakers helped clinch the firm’s sponsorship of both the IMAX and Regina Miracle IPOs. “The share prices for these IPOs rose on their debuts on intelligent pricing – these were huge wins for Talyor and Jamieson,” says the IBD consultant. Veteran Jamieson was also one of the key bankers involved in last year’s $25bn Alibaba IPO, the world’s largest ever listing. Taylor is better known in his native Scotland for his personal 9.3% stake in Glasgow Rangers, one of the country’s leading football clubs.
It’s not often that Goldman creates an entirely new position within its hierarchy – but that’s what it did for Penkin last month. Currently co-head of ex-Japan Asia, he’s relocating to London in the next few months to take on the emerging markets role, but will also become chairman of Asian ECM in the process and the Asian region will be core to his new responsibilities. Penkin established his capital markets credentials at Rothschild where he rose to become UK ECM head before joining Goldman in 2006. “The fact that he’s such a long-standing IPO banker means he’s highly trusted. For example, he helped GS win a share of the China Huarong IPO,” says the consultant.
Famous as the first Western banker to land a senior role at a mainland bank, Nicholson joined Bank of China International in 2007 and CICC five years later as co-head of international investment banking. He expanded the ECM teams at both banks, helping them to play much larger roles in the sector. Nicholson joined Nomura in March and will want to put his expansionist expertise to work at the firm, which currently ranks outside the top 10 in Asia ex-Japan ECM league tables. He is based in Hong Kong, which is hardly surprising given that he renounced his US citizenship in 2013 to receive a HKSAR passport. “I am very proud to say I have become Chinese,” Nicholson wrote in an email, which caused a stir in Hong Kong banking circles at the time.
Kendall was promoted from Asian to global boss in 2012, but was so respected within UBS that he managed to stay based in Hong Kong – a rare feat for a global head. And despite the Swiss firm recently prioritising the expansion of its Asian wealth management business, Kendall has ensured it also remains a regional ECM powerhouse – UBS is in second place in the year-to-date ECM rankings for ex-Japan Asia, according to Dealogic figures. “Kendall’s been holding the helm for ECM, including on major deals like the China Reinsurance HK IPO,” says one of the headhunters.
The still youthful-looking Poon has held senior capital markets roles for more than two decades and joined Citi from Merrill Lynch in 2004, where he was Asia ECM head. Despite his all-rounder role (Poon looks after ECM, DCM, acquisition and leverage finance, project finance and equity derivatives) he still plays a key part in Citi winning ECM deals, says the banking consultant. “He can be credited for winning the China Huarong HK IPO deal which started pre-marketing this month.”
Li, formerly head of China ECM at UBS, joins Deutsche Bank this month in a move the headhunter describes as a “huge hire” for the German firm. His job title has not yet been confirmed but Reuters reports that it will be a senior Hong Kong-based ECM role. “Deutsche Bank is looking to strengthen its senior ranks in Asia following the departures of guys like Bhupinder Sing, co-head of Apac investment banking, and Neil Kell, head of ECM, earlier this year,” says the headhunter, Whatever his title, Li will have his work cut out – Deutsche’s ranking for arranging Asia Pacific equity offerings fell to 10th this year, from fourth in 2014, according to Bloomberg data.