GlobalCapital Bond Awards 2022: Coming Force in Financial Institutions Bonds — Santander CIB
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GlobalCapital Bond Awards 2022: Coming Force in Financial Institutions Bonds — Santander CIB

The Spanish bank was also recognised for its Rising Star FIG Bond Banker (Tullio Genero) and won Most Impressive Local Bank for Latin American Bonds.

Santander Corporate & Investment Banking’s supremacy across Latin America secured a clear win in the region’s bond category this year. And on the other side of the Atlantic, a “supercharged” FIG platform brought recognition for the bank’s growing strength in financial institution bonds and for the efforts of Tullio Genero as a rising star in the FIG world.

Domestic LatAm bond markets have become some of the DCM world’s top performers, particularly over the last six months. Insulated from the war against Ukraine by geography and commodity exports, local supply recovered as dollar issuance slumped. As a top three bank across the largest local markets from Argentina to Mexico, Santander CIB has been at the forefront of the surge in supply.

“We are absolutely committed to these countries,” says Conor Hennebry, global head of corporate debt, noting that the firm owns banks in Brazil, Mexico, Chile, and Argentina.

“We have a great presence in the local and the international markets, and that gives us the ability to ride the waves.”

We’ve focussed very closely on the clients where we can make the most difference and on winning the higher margin, more prestigious, more difficult to win business
Conor Hennebry

Brazil has been busy with debenture deals, where Santander CIB has been helping companies and in many cases taking deals on its own balance sheet and underwriting them for distribution.

“This gives clients extra reassurance, particularly in very difficult markets like we’ve seen recently,” says Hennebry. “Santander CIB has begun to offer the same service in Argentina, including building our own DCM book to help give borrowers reassurance and certainty on execution, which has been a big advantage.”

Mexico stands out for its push into ESG, and provided Santander CIB with its first financial inclusion mandate for FIRA.

“The key I think is being able to switch from local to international in any given market,” says Hennebry. “We believe we’re the only bank in all of those countries that can do both international and domestic, which is an enormous advantage.”

A prime example is Chile, where the bank has been exceptionally active in the Chilean peso market. But when domestic pension reforms brought volatility, Santander CIB could pivot seamlessly to help borrowers tap international appetite, working on every one of the Chilean sovereign’s highly successful international transactions in 2021.

In Europe, Santander CIB started building a strong DCM business for corporates over a decade ago. But the expansion into FIG was more recent. “It was about six years ago that we really started building it up, and we’ve supercharged that growth in the last 12 to 18 months,” says Hennebry. “That has involved a number of changes in personnel but also focus.”

New hires included Abraham Douek, head of FIG and SSA DCM for Europe, Vikram Gandhi as an executive director on FIG DCM Solutions and Johanna Israel as an executive director in FIG DCM origination.

“At the same time we’ve focussed very closely on the clients where we can make the most difference and on winning the higher margin, more prestigious, more difficult to win business,” says Hennebry.

Integral to securing these new mandates has been Tullio Genero, head of DCM Italy and winner of GlobalCapital’s Rising Star FIG Bond Banker. Genero led the teams that brought in three of the four AT1 mandates Santander CIB has won, all of them in the last two years.

“We started in the FIG space later than others,” says Genero. “But we’ve gone through some quantum leaps and our business is absolutely on par with all the Tier 1 banks that clients are used to dealing with.”

Santander CIB’s relatively recent entry into FIG means its success in winning mandates has not been down to historic league table ranking but the quality of its operation.

“The FIG platform is one driven by content and value-add solutions, otherwise it wouldn’t have worked,” says Genero. “It’s been clear since day one this was the only way we would be able to progress.”

Santander CIB started with senior and covered, but has long since moved down the capital structure with a host of Tier 2 mandates.

The next step is a push into the dollar business to demonstrate its position as a global bank positioned between the US and Europe. “Competitors once saw Santander CIB as a little bit of an outlier,” says Genero. “Now, they are accustomed to seeing us on key transactions that are the hunting grounds for bulge bracket banks.”

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