Goldman Sachs used to be seen in the European loan market as an interloper from Wall Street. No longer. The bank was popular enough with its peers and borrowers to be voted top in three categories in 2006, including Most Improved Market Profile.
Goldman Sachs likes to cultivate an image of itself as an enigma.
Undoubtedly one of the most successful houses in investment banking, it remains one of the most secretive — a trait explained by many as a result of its long history as a partnership rather than a publicly listed company. But that is changing.
Last year, loan market borrowers, bankers and investors decided that Goldman Sachs had the Most Improved Profile in the loan market — an honour that market participants award to the bank that they see as making strides not only in the volume and quality of the deals it leads, but also in its willingness to participate in other institutions' deals.
"As the investor universe evolved swiftly in the past 18 months, we moved to reflect that changing environment and at the same time became increasingly integrated across multiple origination points," says Ian Gilday, head of European loan capital markets at Goldman Sachs in London. "This resulted in GS leading innovative loan deals in all the major financing areas."
The bank is indeed making great strides. In the leveraged loan market — a natural home for Goldman given its profile as one of the leading merger and acquisition advisory firms — Goldman was involved in some of the most high profile and innovative deals of 2006.
It led transactions that included the biggest ever payment-in-kind loan
— a £359m deal for UK clothing retailer New Look — as well as the biggest ever mezzanine tranche, the Eu1bn piece for Essent Kabelcom. Those deals helped Goldman win EuroWeek's awards for Best LBO Advisory Bank and Best Mezzanine Loan Arranger.
In investment grade loans, Goldman Sachs was a bookrunner on Indian-owned steel group Mittal's jumbo Eu10.8bn loan, which was brought to part-finance its hostile Eu19.9bn bid for rival steel group Arcelor — a deal that achieved a healthy oversubscription.
The investment bank was also an active player in emerging markets in 2006 and was mandated lead arranger on some of the biggest deals including Russian energy group Rosneft's $24.5bn syndicated loan in November.
With the loan market growing ever more competitive, Goldman Sachs is positioning itself to retain its standing.
"We strive to deliver innovative solutions," says Gilday "which appeal to our issuer and investor clients alike, wherever those loans or notes may sit in a given capital structure."