CLSA eyes a piece of Belt and Road with $10b Manila airport project

Photo: Reuters

CLSA, the offshore platform of Chinese investment bank CITIC Securities, is working on the finance for a new $10 billionairport in Manila as part of its push into Southeast Asia and China’s ambitious Belt and Road initiative.

In an interview this week, CLSA chairman Tang Zhenyi told Reuters that CLSA also planned to open new offices in Vietnam, Pakistan and Dubai this year as theAsia-focused broker continued its expansion into investment banking.

Introduced in 2013, the Belt and Road project is aimed at building a modern-day economic “Silk Road”, connecting China by land and sea to Southeast Asia, Pakistan and Central Asia, and beyond to the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

Beijing has called on financial firms to develop overseas lending businesses to help connect China with old and new trading partners including the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The Manila airport project, to be developed south of the Philippine capital, is still awaiting government approval but CLSA has held preliminary talks with potential Chinese backers for the deal, Tang said.

“It looks like we are in good shape to do this. It’s a $10 billion minimum project,” he said. “Citic and CLSA are in the perfect position to talk with all the Chinese financial institutions.”

Tang and CLSA did not give the location or further details of the project. Local media have reported competing airport proposals are currently being studied by the Philippines government.

The involvement in the airport project by CLSA, which was bought by CITICSecurities in 2013, comes at a time it is aggressively expanding its investment banking advisory services beyond its broking origins, by leveraging its China ties.

“China has the capital, has the market. These countries have the need,” he said, referring to the ASEAN countries’ push to boost infrastructure investments.

Tang, who worked for China’s Ministry of Finance and for the World Bank in Washington before joining Citic Group in 2011, became chairman of CLSA in November 2016.

Last year, the company returned to its CLSA branding, dropping the name CiticCLSA, although it does operate as the international arm of CITIC Securities.

As part of its strategy to grab a bigger share of investment banking deals in Asia,CLSA is also in talks with Pakistan’s ministry of finance to help the country sell Panda bonds – debt sold by foreign entities to investors in mainland China.

Tang said CLSA is in the middle of a transformation, and plans to add up to 15 bankers in Southeast Asia this year as it seeks to diversify from its Chinese roots. Of its 120 current bankers, about 80 are involved with China-related projects and 40 with ASEAN business.

“We are hoping by adding more ASEAN content into the whole company, we willsee it more 50-50 (between ASEAN and China)”.

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Reuters

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.