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DCM: Debt adds to Asia’s promise

For fee-hungry global investment banks, Asian debt capital markets seem to be an earnings dream. Are the region’s DCM bankers finally stepping out of the shadows of their equity capital markets peers?

Debt capital markets have long played second fiddle to equity markets across Asia. But a recent flurry of activity in DCM means the tables have turned and debt bankers could be forgiven for nudging their colleagues in equities and asking sarcastically if DCM revenue is going to be paying for ECM bonuses.

The health of DCM has been a boon for the industry in the region and could mark a more permanent shift. Banking in the region is still overly reliant on equity capital market activityat a time when the euro crisisand China’s slowdownhave conspired to trigger a steep fall in the number of equity capital market deals.

According to Thomson Reuters, total fees generated by investment banks in the first half of the year from equity capital markets in Asia ex-Japan and Australasia amounted to $1.7 billion, compared with $2.8 billion and $4.7 billion in the corresponding periods in 2011 and 2010, respectively.

In contrast Asian debt markets year to datine might be the most dynamic asset class in the world in relative terms and are propping up investment banking profitability in Asia. In the first half of the year, Asia-Pacific issuers, excluding Japan and Australasia, printed a record $76.4