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Corporate finance: Asian M&A tides float Standard Chartered boat

Bank is making use of its wide geographical experience to build cross-border expertise.

The usual global suspects dominate Asia’s M&A investment banking scene and Standard Chartered Bank is not among them. Yet from a standing start four years ago, SCB is becoming a growing force in the sector, having quickly scored some advisory successes as it builds an Asian franchise. Deal flow is sourced not from the bank’s powerful small and medium-size enterprise business but from a small number of repeat clients, says V Shankar, SCB’s global head of corporate finance.

“You have to compete where you can win,” he says. “Our fundamental strategy is brains, brawn and client relationships: the right deals with the right people. We do pure advisory work with a lot of repeat clients.”

The brainpower in the equation is applied by seeking out angles for new business that might be unique to SCB, says Shankar. “Do we have unique insights or geographic or industry expertise to add?” he ponders. “If it’s an intra American/European deal, we’re not the guys. But for a Chinese company buying into Africa or a Malaysian company into India, do we add value? Yes.”

That is why SCB advised Sinopec when it began investing in African oil fields, he says, and why Malaysian telecoms business Maxis Communications mandated SCB when it bought India’s mobile market.

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