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China Corporate and Investment Banking Awards

Best bank for domestic debt capital markets 2020: ICBC

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China

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View full 2020 results

During our awards period between July 1, 2019, and June 30, 2020, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) underwrote 2,298 domestic bonds, according to Wind.

ICBC was the undisputed leader among the Chinese banks, boasting a 12.17% share; it handled more than Rmb1.64 trillion ($240 billion) of deals – putting it a good Rmb182.6 billion ahead of its nearest rival.

When both the interbank and the exchange bond markets are included, ICBC is the only Chinese firm – including banks and securities houses – with a market share of more than 7% in underwriting.

The bank reaffirmed its leadership in financial bonds during our awards period, with a market share of 20.26%, ranking top among the five biggest Chinese lenders. It also excelled in local government bonds, short-term commercial paper and medium-term notes.

Under chairman Chen Siqing, ICBC worked on some of the largest issuance onshore during our awards period, raising Rmb91 billion for State Grid Corp of China, Rmb205 billion in perpetual bonds for Agricultural Bank of China and Rmb80 billion in tier two notes for Bank of Communications.

Rival bankers often point to the size and lending capabilities of ICBC (sometimes nicknamed ‘Infinite Commercial Bank of the Cosmos’) as reasons for its success in areas including onshore DCM. But ICBC has much more to offer than that.

The bank is quick to identify new opportunities. It was the lead underwriter on 45 of the so-called ‘anti-pandemic bonds’ after Covid-19 hit, raising more than Rmb137.3 billion for 41 corporate issuers. It was the first among the large state-owned banks to move into coronavirus bonds, and was sole lead on Jointown Pharmaceutical Group Co’s Rmb1 billion deal – one of the first anti-pandemic bonds to hit the market – in early February.

It was the lead underwriter and sole bookrunner for New Development Bank’s Rmb5 billion ‘coronavirus combating bond’ – the first onshore coronavirus bond by an international SSA issuer and the largest-ever panda deal from the SSA sector.

ICBC was also active in other new areas. It wasted no time in taking part in the development of a new market segment when, in June 2019, Chinese regulators allowed securities houses to issue bonds in the interbank market. Out of the nine such deals so far, ICBC worked on eight and led five.

The bank also innovated in the securitization market, bringing the interbank market’s first residential lease asset-backed note for Shanghai World Expo Land Holding Co. And it originated the first residential mortgage-backed security deal linked to the loan prime rate, a new market-based benchmark lending rate introduced by China in August 2019.

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