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Robust energy deals and strength in a broad range of markets elevated RBC Dominion Securities Inc.'s investment bankers to the top rank of Canadian deal-making in 2012.

A Thomson Reuters tally of the participation and performance of the country's investment banks, known to the street as "league tables," shows that the capital markets unit of Royal Bank of Canada bested the competition in debt and equity underwriting, initial public offerings and acquisition advice.

RBC typically appears close to the top – it's the largest Canadian investment bank – and this year was no exception as the bank raised $5.49-billion in equity for its clients. But BMO Nesbitt Burns Inc. also improved its equity underwriting business and overcame TD Securities Inc. by raising $4.72-billion this year, up by $1.3-billion from last year. TD, which had been the top bank for equity deals in 2011, fell to third place.

Investment bankers at many of Canada's big banks were kept busy by some large energy deals that added to the proceeds and sales of equity underwriters – a trend poised to continue in 2013.

Doug Guzman, head of global investment banking at RBC, said the balance of business both within and beyond Canada's borders is largely responsible for his bank's place at the top of the tables. While Canada's new issue equity markets for resource stocks such as mining were weak, "we had the benefit of setting a much broader range of business, in particular outside of Canada," he said.

The 2012 tallies exclude self-led deals in both the equity and bond categories to better represent the business won by investment banks pitching external clients. That shifted some bank's totals lower. While the Bank of Nova Scotia, for example, finished fifth in the equity league tables, its investment bankers led two of the top three largest equity deals of the year, raising $1.66-billion and $1.7-billion for their own bank.

Looking at the year's mergers, RBC had a hand in 102 acquisitions valued at $76-billion this year. For domestic deals, the blockbuster $15.1-billion (U.S.) bid for Nexen Inc. by China's state-owned enterprise CNOOC Ltd. was a major force in propelling RBC up the M&A charts. Other major multibillion-dollar deals for companies such as grain handler Viterra Inc., by long-time RBC client Glencore International PLC, contributed as well.

New York-based Goldman Sachs & Co. and BMO also served as advisers on the Nexen deal – Canada's biggest this year, and within the top 15 internationally – essentially stamping their passports to their respective second- and third-place spots for M&A in 2012.

The Nexen deal garnered extra attention thanks to the federal government's deliberations on a new model to guide investments of foreign governments in Canada's key assets – such as the oil sands.

The new landscape makes it more challenging for state-owned enterprises to complete transactions for outright control, but Mr. Guzman points out that SOEs are still expected to be interested in acquiring non-controlling stakes, and in joint-venture transactions. Other private-sector companies are also demonstrating interest in M&A, especially in the energy and mining sectors – a trend expected to continue next year.

Beyond 2013, energy infrastructure development in Canada will require capital for building pipelines in order to export to the U.S. or Asia, said Mr. Guzman. Investment banks will benefit from that need.

When it comes to fixed income, RBC is the still the leader. CIBC World Markets, which was the most active in bond deals with 132 issues valued at $25.7-billion, ranked third and raised less money than RBC, with 131 debt sales valued at $39.9-billion.

But RBC could not secure the top spot in lending; CIBC scored the title of top bank for loans and, along with TD, had higher market share and book-runner volume than RBC.

The total market for equity sales shrank to $28.5-billion from $31.2-billion in 2012, while debt sales increased to $164.7-billion from $160.2-billion .

Mr. Guzman said very little has changed in struggling Europe or the over-leveraged U.S., but the efforts to moderate these challenges have calmed the marketplace – a good sign for deal activity. "If there's a theme going into the year for me on a global situation, it's that not much has gotten better, but that governments have taken actions to dampen people's concerns about a dramatic crisis."

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