World’s Best Investment Banks 2020: Equity

Global Finance’s best investment banks posted robust numbers, despite signs of slowing in the global economy. Overcoming geopolitical uncertainties and stronger interest-rate headwinds, UBS held onto its title as Global Finance’s Best Global Equity Bank. UBS generated $4.3 billion in net profits in 2019, down from $4.9 billion in 2018, as it integrated its equities, foreign exchange, and credit-trading business lines into one division. It also boosted its investment in equity research and enhanced its data science offering under its EvidenceLab brand.

“Volatility—a key driver of revenues, particularly for our institutional business—remained muted and ended the year near historic lows,” said Sergio Ermotti, Group CEO, during the bank’s fourth-quarter earnings call. “Late in the year, recession concerns in the US abated and investor sentiment improved, supported by progress on global trade discussions and Brexit, while US equity markets reached all-time highs.”

Granted, all bets are now off as the COVID-19 pandemic slams the global economy. Our 2021 Best Investment Banks will almost certainly be judged, in part, by their ability to respond and adapt to the crisis.

North America: Traditional Distinctions Erode

Citi claimed the title of Best Investment Bank in North America for 2020, with its equity markets business generating $2.9 billion in revenue last year. Over the same period, the bank combined its equities, prime brokerage and securities operations into a single business line to provide more streamlined services to clients.

Citi also committed resources to drive IPOs from industry verticals such as edge cloud computing, electronic exchanges, security software and data analytics, says Paul Abrahimzadeh, co-head of North American Equity Capital Markets at Citi.

“We have been a leader in products such as SPACs [special purpose acquisition companies] and convertible bonds,” he told Global Finance. “Citi’s nimble and innovative approach is the key characteristic that keeps our North American equity capital markets franchise at the forefront of evolving issuance trends.”

These moves also highlight the extent to which historical divisions and categories are blurring with the expansion of private investing, direct listings and new approaches to IPOs, notes Russell Chong, Abrahimzadeh’s co-head of North American Equity Capital Markets. “We continue to see compelling, disruptive companies coming to market,” he says. “These issuances require that we bring the right cross-functional expertise to each situation without regard to traditional silos or dogmatic approaches.”

Europe: Growth in a Slow Market

Across the Atlantic, Crédit Agricole won as Best Investment Bank in Western Europe. CA’s […]

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