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AwardsNew Silk Road Finance Awards

Southeast Asia: Best Regional Bank for BRI 2017


Singapore-based southeast Asian heavyweight, DBS, easily makes the grade for best regional bank in Asiamoney’s inaugural New Silk Road Finance Awards.

DBS, led by Piyush Gupta, has a lot of advantages – as the largest bank in southeast Asia in terms of assets, with one of the widest geographical reaches of the regional banks – but it is already putting them to good use around the Belt and Road Initiative.

With branches in Beijing and Indonesia, and advisory teams strategically placed in Singapore and Hong Kong, DBS can capture the burgeoning interests of One Belt, One Road players stretching from Greater China to southeast Asia.

Its foothold in China is set to get stronger. The bank joined forces with one of the country’s largest banks, the Agricultural Bank of China, when they signed a memorandum of understanding in May 2017. The deal illustrates the Singapore-based bank’s desire to collaborate with China’s main financial institutions as BRI takes off.

DBS’s geographical presence is matched by its Belt and Road capital markets activity. Since 2015, the bank has worked on three quarters of all takeovers of Singapore Exchange-listed entities in which either the buyers or targets were Chinese companies.

Most importantly for the awards period, however, is the sale of a controlling stake in southeast Asia’s largest listed logistics company, CWT, to Chinese conglomerate, HNA group, for S$1.4 billion ($1 billion). The deal will give the Chinese company a foothold in the logistics and commodities-trading business in southeast Asia and beyond.

In July 2016, DBS also completed the first offshore renminbi bond under the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity project for Chongqing Grain Group. This was the first time a corporate in Chongqing has issued offshore RMB bonds in Singapore and the company was able to fully repatriate the funds. Chongqing’s development as a financial and industrial hub is central to China’s Belt and Road programme, connecting east with west China as well as with its southeast Asian partners.