Regional: Best Bank 2020
First Abu Dhabi Bank
There is little that First Abu Dhabi Bank does not get right. The UAE is a driver of growth and of lending – not just in the Middle East, but in Asia and beyond. It is often the first port of call for Asian corporates in search of fresh capital, a place from which to do business, or assets to acquire.
FAB, under chief executive Andre Sayegh, was the number one bookrunner for loans in the Middle East and North Africa region in the 12 months to the end of March 2020, arranging 160 transactions including $5 billion of syndicated loans. It also beat the competition in MENA-region corporate loans during that period, and was the number one loan bookrunner in the GCC region.
Recent standout deals include a $1.3 billion loan for Saudi Aramco Total Refining and Petrochemical and a $428 million term loan for Telecom Egypt. It completed 37 debt capital markets deals in the Middle East in the full year 2019, up 85% year on year. The deal list included a $650 million secured note for Africa Finance Corporation and a $500 million bond for JSW Steel.
Why do companies in the Middle East, and in Asia and beyond, work with FAB?
Size matters – the merger of First Gulf Bank and National Bank of Abu Dhabi created a lender of genuine scale and clout – as does the stability provided by the implicit backing of the government. But it isn’t everything.
FAB is a leader in lending but also in sustainable finance and corporate responsibility. It takes part in the United Kingdom-based CDP (formerly called the Carbon Disclosure Project) and adheres to the 10 principles of the UN’s Global Compact.
And while several lenders are strong contenders for this year’s best overall award, when it comes to the prize for the best bank for Asia, FAB stands alone.
It was the first Middle East lender to open branches in Hong Kong and Singapore, and it has a presence in China, Korea, Singapore, India and Malaysia. The core of its operations in Asia lies in China and India, but business is also growing fast in Indonesia due to the re-emergence of Asean as an investment opportunity.
The bank sees itself in Asia as a financial ambassador for the Middle East and as a key partner in China’s Belt and Road Initiative. It was the only regional bank to take part in last year’s official BRI roundtable in Beijing.
During the awards period, FAB participated in several deals for Asian corporates, in sectors of long-standing interest such as oil and gas and infrastructure, as well as in new ones such as fast-moving consumer goods, food and beverage and, in the case of China, telecoms infrastructure.
In April 2019, it helped agribusiness giant Olam International raise a $350 million digital performance loan, where the deal’s pricing was linked to the Singapore firm’s digital performance. It also helped complete a $121 million term loan for Salim Group, marking the bank’s first financing in Asia for the Indonesian conglomerate. It was an important deal for Salim’s plans to expand its business operations into Africa and Saudi Arabia.