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Pakistan's best corporate and investment bank 2017: Allied Bank

Allied Bank

Allied Bank (ABL) only launched its investment banking business 12 years ago, but the fifth-largest commercial bank in Pakistan has quickly won a deserved reputation as the country’s best in financing and capital raising.

That includes stepping into deals other Pakistani banks are wary of, notably handling one of Pakistan’s biggest-ever transactions for a state-owned enterprise. In December, ABL completed the $1.3 billion refinancing for Pakistan’s electricity-generation unit via the state’s special purpose vehicle, Power Holdings Ltd. This is controversial stuff in Pakistan, with the state’s commitment to the IMF to privatize its grid. As ABL explains, debt impacts the electricity supply chain, resulting in liquidity crunches and a constant “need for bank borrowings, which banks were reluctant to provide.”

The power deal was the biggest of a busy year for Syed Ali, ABL’s head of corporate and investment banking. But it wasn’t the only sovereign deal he handled in 2016. ABL transacted $3.2 billion-worth of deals last year.

In March, it was the lead arranger for a $408 million deal on behalf of the finance ministry, handled through ABL’s offshoot in Bahrain. As ABL explains: “The government of Pakistan was facing immense pressure…which created the need for US dollar funding from commercial banks. ABL, as usual, played a pivotal role in providing an immediate financing solution.”

ABL says its corporate loan portfolio increased by around Rs10 billion ($95 million) in 2016, while it banked a handy Rs3.8 billion in dividend income from its equity portfolio. Among its growth areas are loans and financing deals related to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.