Korea's best securities house 2020
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Korea's best securities house 2020

Korea Investment & Securities

JUNG Il Mun, CEO, KIS.jpg
Jung Il Mun, KIS

The Korea Exchange has had a quiet 2020 so far. During the 12-month awards period, the vast majority of equity capital markets business took place in the latter half of 2019. Bulge-bracket banks such as Citi and Goldman Sachs often take the top spots in Dealogic league tables, but that is typically due to their involvement in block trades and follow-ons. It is local firms that put the work in to bring new names to the market.

Korea Investment & Securities and NH Investment & Securities always lead the show onshore, battling every year for first place in the IPO market. Between July 2019 and June 2020, KIS completed 17 deals worth a combined $1.8 billion, putting it ahead of NIS, which had 10 deals worth $1.6 billion, according to Dealogic data.

KIS worked on eight IPOs, one follow-on deal (where there was a bookbuilding and marketing process, followed by pricing) and a rights issue in the third quarter of last year – each of which raised under $100 million.

These small deals proved its bread and butter, but in the fourth quarter, it worked on Lotte Real Estate Investment Trust’s W430 billion ($362.3 million) deal, the country’s largest public Reit listing. KIS was the only Korean underwriter for the international tranche of the transaction and underwrote the largest portion of the domestic tranche.

KIS also joint led the W403 billion listing of defence contractor Hanwha Systems, working alongside NH I&S and Citi. After that the market dried up for more than six months, because Korea was one of the earliest countries outside China to be hit by Covid-19.

The occasional mandate was announced, but it wasn’t until June – when SK Biopharmaceuticals launched its IPO – that the market came back to life. The IPO turned out to be the country’s largest listing in almost three years at W959 billion. KIS made sure it had a position in the syndicate, as joint lead with Citi, Morgan Stanley and NH I&S.

Korean ECM looks set to pick up pace again in the second half of 2020, and KIS, with chief executive Jung Il Mun at the helm, is in a position to make the most of this long-awaited return to form.