IFR Asia Asian Development Bank Roundtable 2017: Mobilising Asian investors for sustainable development
IFR’s annual ADB roundtable, held as part of the Asian Development Bank’s annual meetings hosted this year by Yokohama, took place at a significant moment. This year marked not just the 20th anniversary of the Asian financial crisis but more importantly perhaps the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Asian Development Bank.
The outlook for Asian credit has rarely been brighter. The first quarter of 2017 was a record for international bond issues from Asia, beating the previous three-month record by 25%, and high-yield offerings are booming.
The opening of China’s domestic bond market is the single biggest opportunity in the global fixed income arena today, and securitisation is likely to be among the biggest beneficiaries.
Environmental, social and governance factors are becoming ever more important in investment decisions. Whether fund managers worry about climate change or simply want to protect the long-term value of their portfolio, sustainability is now high on the agenda.
The finances of China’s local governments are once again capturing the attention of capital markets participants, but for very different reasons.
Asian loan markets are at a crossroads. 2016 has been a dismal year for the product with volumes declining to a three-year low amid market volatility, slow economic growth and limited M&A activity. The 12% year-on-year drop in the first nine months of 2016 compounds a similar decline in the same period in 2015, which was already reeling from a slowing Chinese economy.
China is going global, and so is its currency. The renminbi officially entered the International Monetary Fund’s basket of global reserve currencies on October 1, and barely a week goes by without talk of major reforms to open some aspect of the country’s capital markets to the world.
Bank capital has long been a hot topic in Asia, but the asset class has so far failed to ignite the kind of excitement that the Basel reforms once promised – at least outside of Australia. That is all about to change.
Asia’s bond markets are at the centre of a concerted marketing effort. From Pandas and Dim Sum bonds to Masalas and Formosas, many of Asia’s local debt products are already firmly established in the world’s financial lexicon.
After a dismal run for global emerging markets, Asia’s frontier sovereigns could almost be forgiven for turning down the chance to issue international bonds.
IFR’s Outlook for Indian Borrowers Roundtable took place in Singapore in December 2015. As with the Indian Credit Conference in Mumbai that had preceded it by a couple of weeks, the backdrop was IFR’s inaugural Indian Borrowers Survey, results of which are published in this supplement following the edited transcript.
The reform of China’s local government finances is creating an opportunity out of a crisis. After years of debt-fuelled expansion, the country’s provinces and municipalities are now turning to the capital markets to consolidate their borrowings and finance future spending, presenting investors with an opportunity to diversify and underwriters with a growing revenue stream.
Green bonds may be emerging as the Next Big Thing in Europe and the US, but in Asia the idea has so far been greeted with a fair dose of cynicism. Only a handful of issuers in Asia Pacific – predominantly banks – have launched bonds under the Green label, and few of the region’s homegrown investors have embraced the concept of responsible investing.
For the second year running, IFR hosted a well-attended seminar during the Asian Development Bank’s annual meeting, held this time in Kazakhstan’s gleaming new capital, Astana. Part of the ADB’s official knowledge-sharing programme, the luncheon event brought together a panel of experts to discuss the development of Asian bond markets at a time when the ADB and other public sector bodies are working hard to promote Asia’s capital markets as an alternative to traditional bank finance.
China’s growing use of international debt has been the single-most important story of the past three years in the Asian capital markets.
Bank capital securities are among the most complex in the public debt markets – and the most controversial. Since the 2008 credit crisis exposed the flaws in the products that were designed to help keep the world’s banks solvent, regulators have enforced a number of changes to mixed responses across the globe.