Lender of the year
1. Huatai Financial Holdings
2. Partners Group
3. CLSA Capital Partners
Huatai International, the Hong Kong-based subsidiary of China’s Huatai Securities, emerged as one of the most active Asian private debt investors in 2018. Since the unit’s establishment in 2014, the principal investment team has secured high volumes of proprietary structured financing opportunities focusing on sponsor-led leveraged buyouts and special situations. Last year the team deployed $500 million across 11 secured direct lending transactions in the East Asia and South-East Asia regions.
Managing director and head of principal investment Ryan Chung told PDI that his team achieved an unlevered gross IRR of over 20 percent on all transactions exited since inception. The overall portfolio, including ongoing transactions, is projected to exceed an unlevered gross IRR of 15 percent based on contracted cashflows. “The platform is targeting to deploy a similar amount of risk capital in 2019,” he added.
Distressed debt investor of the year
1. SSG Capital Management
2. Oaktree Capital
3. ADM Capital
Despite strong contenders like Oaktree and ADM Capital, for the fourth year in a row SSG Capital Management has secured the award for distressed debt investor of the year. The firm has invested successfully through multiple economic cycles since the Asian Financial Crisis, while developing and maintaining a strong local presence across the Asia-Pacific region. The firm’s most notable distressed debt deals last year came from India, South-East Asia and China.
In India, SSG set up an asset restructuring company, in which it has a 49 percent stake, and was involved in several restructuring situations that delivered successful resolutions to investors throughout 2018. The firm also executed a similar restructuring deal in China. In South-East Asia, SSG actively managed several distressed and distressed-for-control situations. The firm also owns a non-performing loan platform in Thailand.
Real estate debt fund manager of the year
1. SSG Capital Management
2. CPPIB Credit Investments
3. Warburg Pincus
For a third time, SSG Capital Management has picked up the real estate debt fund manager of the year award. Strong contenders such as CPPIB’s credit investment group – which just raised a new real estate debt fund – and Warburg Pincus – which started expanding its pan-Asian credit business this year – were also close contenders for the category. This past year, SSG was active in funding several real estate development and redevelopment projects in China, Indonesia and South Korea. The deal types ranged from acquisition financing to restructuring for corporates in the real estate sector. The firm also acted as a lender to local Chinese developers constructing office buildings. The firm managed over $3 billion in assets under management as of December 2017. Its investment professionals are based across Hong Kong, Singapore, India, Indonesia and Thailand.
Infrastructure debt manager of the year
1. Macquarie Infrastructure Debt Investments Solutions (MIDIS)
2. Asset Management One Alternative Investments
3. AMP Capital
Leveraging the Macquarie brand and the group’s infrastructure expertise, MIDIS raised $1.2 billion in the first 10 months of 2018, which included investor commitments from Korea, Japan and the Middle East. The platform has raised a total $7.6 billion since 2012, globally.
In July, the firm provided a long-term debt facility of £150 million ($196.4 million; €171.7 million) to Shepherds Bush Housing Association in the UK, along with MUFG Bank, a commercial banking subsidiary of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group. In Australia, the company has made several investments providing long-dated Australian dollar-denominated debt in a market where it is not readily available for borrowers. Other contenders for the infrastructure debt manager of the year category included Asset Management One, an alternative investment arm of Mizuho Bank, which launched its second senior secured infrastructure debt fund, and AMP Capital, which provided a $190 million-sized term loan to EQT Infrastructure-owned Synagro.
Fundraising of the year
1. Bain Capital Credit
3. Asset Management One Alternative Investments
Bain Capital Credit pulled in $1 billion for Bain Capital Special Situations Asia, a broad-based special situations fund that targets distressed debt in the region, surpassing its $750 million target. The credit team invest across the spectrum of capital strategies, from bespoke primary financings to providing liquidity to non-traditional owners of assets.
“We provide liquidity where traditional forms of capital are not available,” Barnaby Lyons, a Hong Kong-based managing director and head of Asia-Pacific at Bain Capital Credit, told PDI. “The fund further enhances Bain Capital Credit’s strong track record of investing in complex and unusual investment opportunities, where we continue to leverage our highly localised team and infrastructure, as well as the established presence and network of Bain Capital as a whole, to maximise value for our broad and global limited partners base.” As of December, Bain Capital Credit managed over $40 billion globally across liquid credit investments – including CLOs and other leveraged vehicles, CMBS, RMBS and direct lending – providing senior and junior capital to the mid-market corporates – in North America, Europe and Australia. Last year alone, Bain Capital’s credit team executed over 10 transactions, totalling approximately $800 million.
Law firm of the year
1. Kirkland & Ellis
Kirkland & Ellis has a strong track record of debt restructuring mandates in Asia, in addition to providing leveraged financing advice to private equity fund managers. Its 150-strong Asia team is based across Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai. Globally, the firm has 2,500 lawyers overall, 115 of which are focused on restructuring and cross-border insolvency.
The most notable restructuring transaction last year was Noble Group. The Singapore-based global commodities giant went through a multibillion-dollar cross-border restructuring in December; the deal represented one of the largest and most complex restructurings that the industry has seen in recent times.
Elsewhere in the region, Kirkland carried out advisory work with convertible bondholders of Paladin Energy, an Australian uranium production company.
Placement agent of the year
1. Credit Suisse Private Fund Group
2. Mercury Capital Advisors
3. First Avenue
The Credit Suisse Private Fund Group has raised over $95 billion for 64 private debt funds globally since its inception, of which $8 billion was raised in 2018.
The firm has also partnered with its clients to raise $32 billion for 28 alternative investment funds for Asia and other emerging markets.
Commenting on demand for Asian private credit, Thomas Swain, the group’s Hong Kong-based director, said: “We continue to see significant potential for growth in the Asian private credit space as it remains relatively underrepresented in most investors’ portfolios, particularly when compared with either Asian private equity exposure or their global private credit bucket.”