In the lucrative business of underwriting and selling company stock, J.P. Morgan led the world's banks this year, earning an estimated $2.2 billion in fees, or nearly double what it hauled from the deals last year.

Across the investment banking industry, equity capital market (ECM) underwriting was the main driver of fees, marking a change in a sector where money made from advising on mergers and acquisitions is traditionally the cash cow.

The ECM burst was driven by resurgent stock markets across the globe and the need for companies to raise cash after last year's market plunge.

Global ECM activity reached $866 billion this year, up 25 percent from 2008. Of that total figure, follow-on activity totaled $669 billion, with nearly half of that coming from banks seeking capital after the financial crisis took its toll.

J.P. Morgan's top ECM status this year came from 383 deals worth $98.5 billion, according to Thomson Reuters.

Bank of America earned a No. 2 spot on the global ECM rankings (298, $72.4 billion), a surprising bump up from No. 4, given the turmoil that hit the bank beginning late last year.

Third slot went to Goldman Sachs (251, $71.3 billion).

Huge bank stock offerings early in the year from HSBC , BofA and Japan's SMFG <8411.T>, reflected on the ECM data.

Asian IPOs led the ECM story in the second half of the year.

Eight of the world's top ten IPOs came from Asia. Hong Kong was by far the world's most active stock market for IPOs, surpassing exchanges in New York and Europe.

As of last week, Hong Kong was on pace to raise more than $25.6 billion in IPO proceeds this year, its second-largest total in the last decade and more than triple last year's figures.

Fourth-quarter U.S. IPO volume reached $7.8 billion, its highest level in 7 quarters. By comparison, only two IPOs hit the London Stock Exchange this year.

In the top 10 global ECM rankings, only two other banks aside from BofA moved two or more spots in the rankings: Citigroup went from 5th last year to 8th this year; RBS went from 12th to 10th.


The last major IPO wave to hit Hong Kong was 2007, at a time when the credit bubble and Asia's growth story were in full swing. Around $37.8 billion of IPO proceeds hit the Hong Kong exchange that year.

UBS was the top IPO underwriter in Hong Kong this year, according to Thomson Reuters, bumping Morgan Stanley down one notch from the place it held during the 2007 bull run.

Citigroup jumped to 4th place this year from 10th two years ago. Goldman was 7th this year, down from 4th in 2007, while BofA leapt to 6th place this year from 12th two years ago.

The after-market trading of the offerings has faced pressure.

Five of Hong Kong's six top IPOs this year are trading below their offering price, including China Minsheng Banking Corp. <600016.SS>, casino group Sands China <1928.HK>, and building materials company China Zhongwang <1333.HK>.

Chinese windfarm company China Longyuan <0916.HK>, which opened on December 10, is up 16 percent since its debut.

Visanet , the Brazilian affiliate of credit card company Visa Inc. , is trading 16 cents below its IPO.

(Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)