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Pakistan's best corporate and investment bank 2020: Arif Habib

Arif Habib

Shahid Ali Habib, CEO, Arif Habib Limited.jpg
Shahid Ali Habib, Arif Habib Limited

Arif Habib Limited is among the leading brokerages and investment banking firms in Pakistan. During Asiamoney’s awards period, the non-banking finance company made its mark in corporate finance and advisory, even though growth concerns and rising debt put pressure on the economy.

Despite a relative lack of deals, Arif Habib still managed to capture the lion’s share of the corporate and investment banking market in Pakistan, and reported a rise of 25% in revenues last year, versus 2018.

Its success was thanks to a deep understanding of Pakistan’s markets. For instance, Arif Habib focused on big deals by blue-chip companies in 2019. It was the buy-side adviser for the leveraged buyout of Luna Pakistan, a rare LBO in the country. When Engro Polymer & Chemicals raised PRs8.75 billion ($57 million) from the sukuk market, Arif Habib was lead adviser and arranger. And it worked on Hub Power Company’s rights issue, conventional debt and sukuk transactions. Bankers at the firm say the revenue jump last year was driven by its involvement in these deals.

In a year when IPOs dried up, Arif Habib still managed to act as a consultant to textile company Interloop, the only firm to list in Pakistan last year, raising about $36 million.

But the lack of such deals also spurred Arif Habib, led by chief executive Shahid Ali Habib, to evolve from being just an IPO house to a bigger capital markets player.

This is evident in its revenue breakdown. While 70% to 75% of corporate and investment banking revenues were from equity capital markets deals before, now roughly one third comes from ECM, with another third each coming from Arif Habib’s debt platform and advisory divisions.

Arif Habib has IPO mandates in the pipeline, as well as a handful of debt deals, government privatizations and both buy-side and sell-side advisory positions, setting the stage for a strong 2020.