Syndicated Loan, Leveraged Finance and Private Debt Awards 2022: Loan House of the Year – BNP Paribas
A long established dominance due to the bank's number one loan platform in the market
BNP Paribas’ long-established dominance in the loans market was on full display this year. The bank once again secured the much coveted overall loans house award and was named best arranger for Western Europe. But the firm also added a new trophy to its cabinet, winning Most Innovative Bank for ESG Lending.
“It’s always a great result to be recognised by our peers,” says Nicolas Rabier, the bank’s head of loan capital markets for EMEA. “We didn’t arrive at this position through luck, BNP Paribas has spent over a decade building the number one loan platform in the market.”
The league table results bear this out, putting BNP Paribas clearly in pole position in terms of deal volumes. In addition to scooping a trio of awards as an arranger, the firm’s fingerprints are on a host of winning transactions from across the market. BNP Paribas worked on the best leveraged loan, the best emerging market loan and the best sustainability-linked loan to name just a few.
We didn’t arrive at this position through luck, BNP Paribas has spent over a decade building the number one loan platform in the market
The bank is unrivalled in its pan-European coverage, providing finance solutions and support across almost every EMEA jurisdiction. The breadth of BNP Paribas’ reach and the depth of its expertise means that in turbulent times cautious borrowers have no trouble picking out the right arranger. Conflict in Europe, rampant inflation and soaring interest rates made 2022 yet another challenging year.
“When Covid hit in 2020, we were the first bank to adjust and shift borrowers towards short-term facilities,” says Rabier. “The same thing happened in 2022, with people looking for arrangers with the experience and market presence to adapt to a new environment.”
Overall volumes sank sharply in 2022, but BNP Paribas’ prestige as a loans house meant that it captured a larger share of a smaller market. At the end of 2022, the league table gap between BNP Paribas and its closest competitor had only grown.
Agility is a key part of what helps BNP Paribas adjust to shifting markets. “We are holistic in our approach,” says Rabier, highlighting a dedication to identifying the right product for a client across the full range of debt and equity. “We instil in our teams that the priority shouldn’t just be your particular product, it's giving the right advice to the client.”
This strategy allowed the bank to tap into fertile sources of demand despite the difficult backdrop. BNP Paribas became a driving force in the Schuldschein market, which was up by some 40% in 2022 while the wider loan market suffered a double digit percentage point drop. “It’s about looking at all the options and finding other markets where you can get more traction,” Rabier says.
Not only was the bank a major player in boosting Schuldschein volumes, but its commitment to ESG meant the firm was able to bring several stellar sustainability deals in that format. This included a €800m three tranche sustainability-linked deal for Etex, which earned a nomination for Schuldschein deal of the year.
“ESG is embedded in the bank’s DNA and it was a strong part of our conversation with clients in 2022,” says Rabier. “In terms of volume we brought more clients to the Schuldschein market in ESG format than ever before. We also brought clients from many different sectors into ESG - including telecoms, building materials and cement - which is something that we are very proud of.”
Highlights outside of Schuldschein include BNP Paribas’ role as sole sustainability coordinator on a debut sustainability-linked deal for Danish pharmaceutical company Lundbeck. KPI’s on that €1.5bn deal - which was a strong contender for best sustainability-linked loan of 2022 - included increasing the number of patients reached with donations in low- and middle-income countries.
Rabier says the bank works continuously to develop its expertise across the ESG spectrum.
“Outside of sustainability-linked we try not to be limited to one format,” he says. “We’ve done green private placements, green convertibles, we’ve done ABS.” This dynamic is clear across corporate finance and real assets. “We were quite successful in 2022 on the export finance side, where we’re also trying to push for a more sustainable economy.”
The bank was involved in the first financing made under the Spanish Export Credit Agency’s new Green Investment Policy, providing Iberdrola with €500m to finance foreign renewables. But Rabier emphasises that innovation is about more than just being first in a particular format.
“The goal is to constantly adapt to how the market is changing,” he says. “KPIs are becoming more detailed, client’s priorities are evolving and it's our job to help them adapt their strategies to create a much more sustainable environment.”