When we asked for submissions for this year's Best Investment Bank, one of the things we requested were testimonials from key clients. These were to be kept anonymous, but let us quote what one major Asian client said at the conclusion of its letter to us: "Goldman Sachs has fully demonstrated that the excellent quality of its execution skills and strong commitment to clients has solidified its leadership position in Asia, and it has brought our relationship to another level."
How does Goldman measure its own success? It does so through the repeat business it does for such key clients. After all, clients will not use you again if you do a bad job. So what repeat business has Goldman done? Take China Mobile, whose IPO it did in October 1997. It then did a $2 billion follow on transaction for the firm in October 1999, and in October this year it launched a $6.9 billion equity follow-on in extremely volatile market conditions - especially for the telecom sector. It also advised on the acquisition of seven mobile networks in China and advised on Vodafone's $2.5 billion investment in the company.
Or MTR, whose $1.38 billion IPO it launched this year, and then was mandated to be a joint book-running lead manager in the $600 million global bond issue the next month.
Or Taiwan Semiconductor (TSMC) for which it has done nine transaction since June 1997. This year it did a $170 million block trade in February, a further $207 million block in April, and then in June a further $1.16 billion follow on trade - in what was the then largest ever (non-privatization) equity issuance from Asia. In June it also closed the $6.4 billion acquisition of Worldwide Semiconductor by TSMC.
Then there's Hutchison Whampoa. This year Goldman helped Hutch sell a $5 billion chunk of its Vodafone stock. It also advised Hutchison on telecom M&A in India and raised $476 million for Hutch's JV with Global Crossing.
Or Li & Fung, for whom Goldman first did a block trade in January 1999 and then did two block trades this year ? the first in March for $250 million and the second in September for $290 million. Or Legend, for which it a 1999 block trade of $121 million with a $369 million deal in February. Or Far Eastern, or Acer or ASE?
The message: top clients in Asia use Goldman not once, but again, and normally, again. It does not matter what the client wants to do. If its is equity financing, debt raising or strategic acquisition advice, Goldman has truly become the one stop shop for Asia's blue-chip companies when they are looking for financial services. But it is not just big, easy deals that investors will lap up anyway.
When key decision makers have to decide who they will entrust with a difficult but crucial deal, it is Goldman to which many turn. It is significant that in one of the hottest mandate chases of the year, for Chunghwa Telecom ? one of Asia's last great privatizations ? the Taiwanese government decided that Goldman was to have the global coordinator role.
It is a fact that Asian governments trust Goldman with their key privatizations. China is an instructive case. In both the telecom and oil industries, Goldman was selected to take the first major companies to the equity markets. In terms of telecom, that was China Mobile and in the oil industry, PetroChina.
The $2.9 billion IPO for PetroChina was a landmark deal. In atrocious markets and amid some of the greatest political opposition ever to hit a capital markets transaction, the Chinese government saw this as a make-or-break deal for its whole SOE restructuring programme. That Goldman got the deal done, and that it was one of the best performing for investors in the subsequent six months, is a testament to the institutional power of Goldman, regardless of the execution hurdles that had to be crossed.
This year Goldman did 37 deals in equity, debt and M&A, and in volume terms that equates to $57.6 billion. It has been a year of equity, M&A and telecom, and Goldman's abilities in all three areas are excellent.
Goldman, with its towering presence in the eight floors beneath Li-ka Shing's office in Hong Kong, has 1,379 people in Asia, which includes 155 investment banking professionals in Singapore, Taipei, Seoul, as well as Hong Kong. It has successfully re-built its franchise and this year the firm came of age in Asia. It is now fully focused on and committed to the region. It has read the market perfectly this year with its emphasis on telecom deals and China businesses. It has excelled in nearly every deal that it has touched. It has been unrelenting in its devotion to clients and in its pursuit of excellence, and in the process has raised the standard of investment banking in Asia.