Mission Possible

The biggest winner in mtn-i’s 2020 Awards is the MTN and private placement market itself. Collectively the awards reveal the vital significance of these global markets’ solution delivery for borrowers and investors during the pandemic crisis.

The depth and range of that response revealed – more than ever before – the resilience, power and value of this market’s mission to offer solutions in the face of sudden adversity.

In the 18th year of these Awards and our 20th as the MTN market’s news, data and analytics platform it’s become our most important role to make transparent and quantify the value of the global debt scene’s most undercover of markets. And never more so than in 2020, with their unprecedented depth and range, MTNs made a vital contribution to issuers and investors to survive and thrive amid the pandemic.

The Solutions Matrix.

MTNs delivered crisis-hit issuers unparalleled liquidity at speed in the face of volatility and uncertainty, at a time when benchmark market conditions, price discovery and pricing new deals altogether was challenging and difficult.

In the face of SSA and corporate issuers’ ballooning funding needs to meet the unknown cost of the pandemic, global central banks’ bond buying binge suppressed rates and credit spreads. This made 2020 the most challenging year for investors in their search for yield.

The MTN story of 2020 is how in the face of this challenging matrix, the private markets delivered, with an extraordinary speed, a scaling up of the available liquidity, while at the same time diversifying the range of investors and issuers engaged, and providing product innovation while exploiting swap-driven arbitrage opportunities. Increased SRI investor participation across this matrix, the growth of cost-effective ultra-long funding, the ever-increasing prominence of private taps, and arbitrage and/or outright funding in EM and frontier currencies were among the standout extensions of the market’s unique product range.

Multiplicity Coded

mtn-i’s own innovative theme and trend-driven colour-coded category approach to awards spotlights the value of these markets in 2020 and beyond.

The number of themes which made it to the award stack reached 12 – as we saw the relevance of the sub-sovereigns to be recognised on their own from the broader SSA category. A distinction was also needed between local and EM/frontier currencies in a year which significantly distorted the latter category.

Our themes underline the range and the depth of the MTN and private placement markets’ pandemic-response. And within each theme category is the interplay of these themes in the creation of value, referenced by additional colour coding. Where else can you follow the dots from the theme of SRI expansion through corporate credit diversification and Schuldschein funding? The diversity of MTN market’s possibilities is uniquely colour-coded and connected, and points the way forward in 2021.

Volatility Liquidity..

Corporates rushed to secure funding in the face of an unprecedented uncertainty and looming lockdowns. Private markets were fast to provide funding solutions before any kind of a large scale public issuance was feasible. Heineken tapped the Swiss franc market for the first time in a private MTN while Toyota’s European entity rode north to debut in Norwegian kroner. In Asia, thanks to private placements, Export-Import Bank of Korea was able to navigate market volatility with benchmark-like funding in US and Australian dollars.

SSA Funding Explosion..

The year 2020 was an unprecedented one for sovereign private placements too. Finland embarked on a first of a kind sovereign private tap frenzy to enhance its funding and provide investors with coveted supply, Austria completed its long-awaited return to US dollars choosing the private route while Ireland was an avid issuer of ultra-long tenors and Israel achieved the largest volume, covering all three G3 currency markets.

Social Responsiveness..

The SSA sector led the way to alleviating the damage of the pandemic and funding vaccination development. From countries to agencies, and established and lesser known supranationals, moved swiftly to alleviate the pandemic’s impact by updating their existing social bond programmes. The sector’s new heavy lifting meant that private markets came to life in tandem with public issuance.

Beyond the SSA funding explosion, the menu of green and social bond themes was extended. The World Bank and the International Finance Corp stood out, alongside the Asian Development Bank and Corporacion Andina de Fomento, while City of Munich’s SRI debut innovated by improving the city’s housing sector.

Corporate SRI..

Corporates became visible like never before as they stepped to the fore with the evolution of SRI debt. Henkel introduced the first plastic waste reduction bond targeting both Asia and Europe. Turkish banks found unusual demand that led them to issue inaugural private green bonds. The Euro PP and Schuldschein markets stepped up and further boosted the sustainability-linked issuance. However, in this new and growing SRI asset class, it was Olam International that provided the first private MTN through a cross-border Asian trade.

Yield Longing

More than ever, long-end funding proved relevant, especially in Europe. Not only among the SSAs, where unusual and infrequent supranationals made inroads – led by Jefferies spearheading Black Sea Trade & Development Bank into long-end Euros – to provide higher yield through duration, but also the covered bond market achieved a new milestone stretching to 70 years via a Compagnie de Financement Foncier landmark.

Core Role.

More than ever private placements wereat the core of the global bond markets. MTNs proved their relevance for issuers and investors alike, sometimes blurring the perceived boundaries of benchmark markets with sizeable reverse enquiry-driven private and club deals.

The World Bank broke grounds not only by extending the new SOFR benchmark’s maturity but achieved a size envied by others printing public bonds. This was the foundation for a later tap that further grew the size of its FRN.

From the financial space, Zurich Insurance funded its US entity in a USD200m deal which later doubled to provide cost-efficient, dedicated financing.

Rates Calling.

2020’s growth in rates structures sales to USD90bn emphasised the MTN markets ability to create possibility from a combination of pandemic volatility and near zero rates and unpromising curves.

Citi’s strategic use of structured products to funding the investment bank – recognised in our awards last year – paid off to the tune of USD13bn of funding in its own name in 2020.

InGen, DZ Bank’s innovative digital yield identification platform for investors powered a stunning assent to the top of third party Euro callable sales – a stunning performance over rivals. And a structure in which KfW raised more funding than any other borrower across the year.

In the repack space, once again dominated by SPIRE originator, Crédit Suisse, the first to deliver OATs repacks with yield boosting call structures.

Dealers Deliver..

HSBC proved once again its sheer global distribution capability and is recognised as the MTN dealer of the year. Credit Suisse’ structuring across asset classes remained unrivalled, leading with the first SPV-issued callable OAT repack.

Moreover, it raised equity capital through catastrophe bond-like transfer of its operational risk to insurance investors. Citigroup remained a leader in integrating its dealing capabilities for own-name ratestructures sold across the world while Credit Agricole focused on its unique strategy to facilitate short-term third-party financing.

Digital Payoff.

It is a further tribute to this market’s resilience that the MTN market’s issuers, investors and dealers managed the challenges of physical and geographical dislocation and the virus itself – embracing the possibilities of communication and collaboration technology in the digital realm at speed.


In the coming weeks we will be collaborating with our award winners to create content which identifies the value and opportunities of these global award themes and trends for borrowers and investors into 2021, supported by mtn-i’s data and analytics platform and mtn-iTV.

Watch out for our new 2021 theme and trend zones.


On that note of collaboration and connection, our congratulations to all of you, our clients, and our team here, in the latest instalment of the undercover debt market mission that is MTNs.

Click here to see all the winners…


Join our theme driven MTN conversation in the coming weeks. Watch out for more details. And congratulations to the MTN market and all our award winners.

The mtn-i Team

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