Client-centric strategy helps supercharge growth
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Client-centric strategy helps supercharge growth

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Santander’s success in broadening its SSA business has been nothing short of exceptional. A major force in the local market for years, the bank has rapidly evolved into a global SSA powerhouse. GlobalCapital spoke to Ali Nauman, executive director, SSA DCM, about the firm’s winning strategy, its approach to building relationships and its ambitions for the future.

How has Santander’s SSA franchise grown over the years?

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Santander has been present in the local SSA sector since our investment banking and market activities first began. Just over three years ago, we took the decision to expand our SSA offering to clients outside of our home markets. We have complemented that offering with a full suite of services across trading, sales, research, syndicate, DCM and more in order to become a global partner to clients in the SSA market.

That has led to significant growth for Santander Corporate & Investment Banking (Santander CIB) in a short period of time, marked by an expanding portfolio of high-profile SSA issuers and successful bond mandates. We have steadily increased our market share by continuously adapting to the evolving landscape and enhancing our product suite. The success of our transactions has allowed us to increase our client footprint, while our dedication to the development of long-term relationships has ensured repeat business from existing issuers.

How would you characterise the firm’s success in the SSA space and what factors have contributed to this success?

Our role in many landmark deals and rising place in industry rankings and awards reflects our status as an emerging force in the SSA bond markets. The numbers speak for themselves here. When we started our SSA expansion strategy we were 23rd in the league table rankings, with 22 deals executed and €5.3bn placed. We are now a top 20 house, finishing last year at 18th position with 35 deals executed and €12.1bn. We’ve had a strong start to 2024 and our aim is to finish in the top 15.

In addition to improving our league table figures, we are expanding our client footprint and coverage. Wider market dynamics, including the pandemic and the creation of the EU NextGen programme, have increased the funding needs among key SSA issuers. This has generated an opportunity for newcomers and with the right set up already in place to grow and gain market share.

What strategies do you use to build and maintain strong relationships with SSA issuers?

Santander CIB has always been a client-centric bank, which means that we put our customers at the centre and provide bespoke solutions. Our team has prioritised personal and proactive client engagement, which requires a deep understanding of clients’ needs and strategic goals. I am a true believer in the importance of open communication that helps clients feel supported and well informed about market conditions and opportunities. Our team’s emphasis on reliability and excellence in deal execution has given us a strong track record built on trust and credibility.

What are Santander CIB’s ambitions for the franchise in the years to come?

We are here for the long run, with a full commitment to the SSA sector. Strong organic growth will help make sure the SSA franchise is aligned with the bank’s objectives.

What are the key challenges and opportunities the bank expects to face?

As we grow, I see greater opportunities for Santander CIB to offer its wide range of expertise to a larger selection of clients, thus solidifying long lasting and meaningful relationships. SSAs is a very well-banked space, but we have found our feet and established a reputation for using our natural strength to create solutions for clients.

I am excited about Santander’s growth in the US and our ambitions for more business with a bigger profile. Another key topic has been around technological advancements. Santander is already a leader in technological evolution, and we are proud to have helped issuers on their journey into the world of digital bonds.

Looking at market challenges, the first things I would mention are interest rates and inflationary pressures. Then there is always geopolitical uncertainty and economic volatility, although in the last few years we have seen the market navigate these challenges quite well.

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