CLSA’s Slone Q&A: Rise of Asia’s awkward squad
CLSA has always had a unique position in Asian finance – to its competitors it has been a curiosity, but one secretly admired for its independence. Three years after its purchase by Citic Securities, it’s now the means by which the Chinese brokerage aims to take on the world. Outspoken CEO Jonathan Slone insists the firm will flourish while keeping its identity. Can he make it happen?
|CLSA’s CEO Jonathan Slone
Why should you care about CLSA? It has always been interesting; a distinctively punchy, research-led brokerage known for its style and verve, but does the Hong Kong-based institution matter on a global scale?
There are two reasons CLSA matters more than its size would suggest.
The first is the takeover of the business by Citic Securities, announced in 2012 and finally completed in 2013. After 20 years of watching international investment banks try to fight their way in to mainland China through restrictive joint venture structures they cannot control, this deal gives us the chance to watch the process in reverse: a big mainland brokerage going global and using a western house to do so.
CLSA is at the heart of China’s efforts to improve its ability to deploy and raise capital overseas; one of the most important market themes of the next 20 years.
It is a fascinating combination and not an obvious one.
Citic Securities, through its domestic and international arms, dominated investment banking league tables last year – and not just in volume terms in commoditized debt transactions, but also in fees.
According to Dealogic, its net revenues from public deals in ex-Japan Asia investment banking in 2016 were $530 million, topping the region (although 98.6% of it came from mainland China), leaving Credit Suisse, the top-ranked multinational at $424 million, far behind.
It is powerful and state-backed, as part of the Citic Group SOE, yet not beyond reproach.