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Opinion

Asian buyside: East is best for rising investor group

The list of cornerstone investors in the ABC deal shows the newfound prominence of Asian and Middle Eastern buyers.

The list of institutions widely reported at the end of June as comprising the cornerstone investors for the long-awaited IPO of Agricultural Bank of China says much about the new realities of post-crisis banking. While in the past China bank listings were propped up by substantial investments from western firms, such banks as UBS and RBS have long since sold their stakes in order to raise recovery capital.

Now the list of cornerstones for the ABC deal is full of top investors from the Middle East and Asia. The sovereign wealth funds of Qatar, Kuwait and Singapore are in for reported sums of $2.8 billion, $800 million and $200 million respectively, while Hong Kong tycoons including Li Ka-shing and Lee Shau-kee as well as top China state-owned enterprises such as China Life, China Pacific Insurance and CNPC are all likely to be involved.

Japan’s Nomura and Daiwa Securities Group are the only investment banking names reported so far. Among western banks only Standard Chartered and Rabobank are thought to be investing in the deal. Both institutions have announced business tie-ups with the Chinese lender.

The simultaneous A and H share listing of ABC is the key event in the year’s Asian equity calendar, expected despite downsizing from an initial $30 billion target to be the biggest IPO of the year globally and the largest ever such deal for China.

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