Few houses or investors have covered themselves in glory when it came to the tech sector this year, and BNP Paribas Peregrine (BNPPP) is no less different from most. Though this may seem a strange opener to the presentation of an award, it is necessary to put the bank's achievements into the context of a bubble, which burst spectacularly when the NASDAQ suffered its first major precipitous crash on April 14.
What BNPPP should be applauded for is having the foresight to spot a market opportunity and go for it. The bank has built up a 46% market share for GEM (Growth Enterprise Market) listings in Hong Kong, having brought eight companies to market between March and July this year. Four were also launched and closed within the space of just six weeks over the course of March and April.
BNPPP rode the wave of the tech frenzy more adeptly than most and was responsible for the listing of GEM's two largest companies by market capitalization, AcrossAsia Multimedia and tom.com. The latter also still ranks as one of the year's best performing IPO's relative to issue price. Having listed at HK$1.78 ($0.23) in late February, the counter was still trading up 57% by mid-December around the HK$2.80 mark. For many observers, this achievement is also somewhat ironic given that at the time the listing was seen as a blatant cashing-in on a mania by the Li Ka-Shing empire. AcrossAsia Multimedia also stands out as one of only two international offerings from Indonesia this year. BNPPP raised $75.89 million for the only broadband internet access play in Indonesia, securing a valuation of over $2 billion for a Lippo Group company with little track record.
BNPPP itself likes to view itself as an investment bank that grows with the companies it raises capital for. Francis Leung's greater China team has certainly risen successfully from the ashes of what was once Peregrine. Within two years, the bank has grown from approximately 100 predominantly Hong Kong-based staff to 700. In terms of fee generating business, it has also trounced larger rivals this year, sitting at number five in the equity league tables for the year to November, with 26 issues and $3.097 billion under its belt.áSee other winners...