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Investment banking: Asia’s finest defy the global squeeze

Asian investment banking thrives despite woes in Europe and the US.

If you were to have picked a day to price an IPO over the past 12 months, you theoretically couldn’t have done much worse than Friday March 14 when Bear Stearns announced that it was having a little liquidity trouble. Yet Want Want, a Chinese snack maker, said go go and completed its $1.05 billion flotation despite what must have been a difficult roadshow. The stock slumped sharply at first but then climbed steadily. As Euromoney went to press, it was trading well above the launch price.

Investment bankers are in agreement about what’s needed for deals like these to price when all around them markets are tumbling: a well-known name, an energetic and thorough roadshow, a willingness on the issuer’s part to accept the consequences of pressing on with the wedding despite the downpour. All of these were true of the Sony Financial Holdings IPO, launched in September when Japanese equities were severely underperforming and financial stocks were particularly sluggish. The deal has outperformed the Topix index by some 25% to 30% since listing, and the company’s financing team must feel vindicated.

There’s a buzz around Asia’s financial hubs that’s missing from New York and London at present, and the fact that deals were executed throughout the worst of the financial crisis suggests that there’s plenty of business to be done whatever the global environment.

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