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BofA bullish about H2 on strong pipeline of India deals

PTI Mumbai | Updated on July 20, 2020

In the first half of the year, BofA invested heavily in India thus making it to the second place in dalal street

Global investment banking major Bank of America (BofA), which stood second in the India deal street ranking in the first half, is bullish on the remaining six months with a strong pipeline of deals, despite the Covid-19 pandemic hitting business sentiment.

The North Carolina-headquartered bank expects the deal street to be driven by both consolidation in the sectors impacted by the pandemic and financial institutions raising growth capital.

Raj Balakrishnan, the head of India investment banking at BofA, said that the pandemic is unlike any other previous crises.

“A company that was being run perfectly well till February may not be viable now for no fault of the management, as business may be hit due to the lockdowns. Further, the same company may be perfectly fine once the lockdown is over and normalcy returns as long as it has sufficient liquidity to sail through the crisis,” Balakrishnan told PTI, expressing confidence in the broader business recovery.

That is why, he said, raising capital is now the key to help emerge as a winner.

Thanks to Reliance Industries selling over a quarter of its stake in its subsidiary Jio Platforms, the deal street was vibrant clocking nearly $44 billion in H1 of 2020, up 14.5 per cent year-on-year.

Between late April and June, Reliance sold nearly 25 per cent in Jio Platforms to 10 investors, including Facebook, which snapped up 9.99 per cent for over ₹43,000 crore. Then it sold 15 per cent more, collectively raising ₹1.2 lakh crore including through the largest rights issue of ₹53,124 crore in June.

Others who lapped up minority stake in Jio for $15.27 billion include Silver Lake Partners, General Atlantic, KKR and others. The selling spree continued in July with Google picking up 7.7 per cent for over ₹33,700 crore.

According to industry tracker Mergermarket, BofA stood second in the i-banking league table with deals worth $6.7 billion in the first half, capturing 17.6 per cent market share. Morgan Stanley topped the list with $13 billion across nine deals.

BofA was one of the bookrunners of the largest rights issue by Reliance worth ₹53,124 crore in June. The bank also exclusively advised Facebook for its stake-buy in Jio.

BofA also executed block deals for Standard Life Aberdeen (in HDFC Life and HDFC AMC) and for Blackstone in Embassy Office Parks REIT.

SBI Cards IPO, the largest initial share listing in nearly a decade, and Avenue Supermart’s (DMart) QIP and OFS are some of the other big deals executed by BofA this year. And deals continue to be worked on.

“We have a strong pipeline of deals and we are confident, the second half will be equally busy,” Balakrishnan said.

Companies hit by the pandemic would try to sell down their non-core businesses, and it would be another opportunity for investment bankers, he added.

Balakrishnan has multiple reasons for being optimistic on the deals front.

“A lot of minority stake sale is happening across India Inc and we will see some sales driven by portfolio choice as well. You will also see quite some activity in the e-commerce space where consolidation is likely,” he added.

In June alone, BofA handled six market transactions raising over USD 8.5 billion for clients. The deals included Standard Life Aberdeen selling 5.6 per cent in HDFC AMC for USD 378 million through OFS, the RIL rights issue of USD 7.1 bullion, and Blackstone selling stake in Embassy Office Parks REIT for USD 500 million among others.

“We were the busiest i-banker on the street amid a challenging and volatile market backdrop. From the landmark USD7.1 billion RIL rights issuance, which is the largest ever capital market transaction in the country to USD 18 million Andhra Paper OFS — we were there adding the most relevant investor colour and helping our clients access liquidity,” he said.

According to Mergermarket, Morgan Stanley and BofA have picked nearly half of the USD 43.5-billion deals in H1, through just 11 of the 72 deals.

But in terms of volume, the period saw 24.7 per cent fewer deals at 183 as against 243 Y-o-Y.

Published on July 20, 2020

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