Hong Kong borrowers raised US$5.65 billion through loans in the first quarter of this year, a big jump on the US$2.1 billion raised in the same period last year, statistics from IFR Publishing say. ABN-Amro vice-president Raymond Li said: 'Big corporates raised a lot of funds in the first quarter and there was also the large loan to the Hong Kong Airport Authority.' Many of the new loans were for property investments, with Amoy Properties raising HK$5 billion, Cheung Kong HK$3.9 billion and Wharf HK$5.5 billion. The Hong Kong activity contributed to a 56 per cent increase in the amount of money raised by Asian borrowers, climbing to US$30.05 billion. The biggest increase came from Australia, where loans almost trebled to US$9.2 billion, boosted by financing for Victoria's newly privatised energy distributors. IFR, which publishes league tables of the most active banks, said that over the first quarter, Societe Generale Asia shot to the top of the tree for syndicated Hong Kong-dollar securities. IFR's classification includes floating rate certificates of deposit (FRCDs), floating rate notes (FRNs) and fixed rate bonds. Second was UBS, third Bayerische Landesbank, and fourth HSBC Markets. At the end of last year, HSBC took first place, with Standard Chartered Investment Bank second and SocGen Asia third. According to IFR, SocGen Asia raised US$1.18 billion during the first three months of this year. This included acting as leading bookrunner for a HK$2 billion FRCD for the Bank of East Asia and a HK$350 million fixed rate bond for the World Bank subsidiary, the International Finance Corp. A source close to SocGen said the IFR figure was too high, unless it also included loans for which it was only an arranger - such as the HK$1.25 billion raised for Banque Indosuez.