The world’s best bank for public-sector clients 2021: BNP Paribas
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The world’s best bank for public-sector clients 2021: BNP Paribas

In a tough year, quality and quantity mattered to the public sector. BNP Paribas offered both.

Arguably, this award has never been more relevant and competitive or harder to win. Covid has stretched the resources of public-sector organizations, from sovereigns, supranationals and agencies (SSA) to state-owned enterprises, to the limit.

When the pandemic hit and liquidity dried up, these institutions turned for help to trusted financial partners – specifically, to banks with unimpeachable, decades-long track records in working closely with the public sector.

This is whereBNP Paribascomes in. In early 2020 the bank’s public sector team – comprising 25 dedicated professionals serving 250 global clients – kicked into gear.


  • Citi
  • HSBC
  • JPMorgan
  • Laurent Leveque, global head of official institutions coverage, points to the bank’s: “Long history of work with the public sector. It comes from the top of the house.”

    He is referring to BNPP chairman Jean Lemierre, a former head of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, who knows as much about the financial demands and needs of the public sector as anyone in the industry.

    Jamie Stirling BNPP_400x225.jpg
    Jamie Stirling

    A handful of other institutions were considered for this award. JPMorgan was a pillar of support for clients during the awards period, and Citi and HSBC were also strong.

    But at times like these it is both quality and quantity that matter, with the standout bank the one that not only tops league tables but is also proactive on the deals that matter. Data does not lie. In the Covid era, the euro has come to dominate SSA issuance. Euro-denominated sales accounted for 59% of worldwide SSA prints by volume in the year to the end of March 2021, according to data from Dealogic.

    Global sovereigns raised $415 billion from 190 euro-currency prints over that period, against $170 billion raised from 71 US dollar bonds, Dealogic data shows. BNP Paribas topped the league tables in euro-denominated sovereign and overall SSA issues. It also led the way in social bonds, where it was the only lender to grab more than 10% of the market.

    Going big

    The bank went big when coronavirus hit, as it sought to help under-pressure clients from Europe to the Middle East and Latin America to Asia Pacific.

    Jamie Stirling global head of SSA debt capital markets, says BNP Paribas was “active pretty much daily” from day one of the pandemic. “We were helping to print €20 billion-plus on a weekly basis,” he adds. “Not all banks are able to commit this level of resource to the sector. It’s when markets become volatile and issuance challenging that the value of our franchise is more visible.”

    The bank led the way on a host of transactions during the awards period that ticked a number of boxes. There were deals that kick started jittery markets when Covid first hit. Others stood out due to their innovative structures or sheer size. At times, BNP Paribas’s public-sector team seemed to be everywhere.

    We could highlight any number of standout deals led by BNP Paribas, but here are a few. There was the Nordic Investment Bank’s €1 billion response bond, issued in the early days of the pandemic – a deal that bolstered the Helsinki multilateral’s finances and helped to jolt the debt markets back into action. Then there was the UK Debt Management Office’s £12 billion May 2020 transaction, which drew a record £82.6 billion in orders.

    It’s when markets become volatile and issuance challenging, that the value of our franchise is more visible
    Jamie Stirling

    The European Investment Bank was a regular visitor to the markets throughout 2020 and the first half of 2021, with BNP Paribas often on hand to guide it through the rocky shoals. One deal that stands out is a €1 billion sustainability awareness bond issued in April 2020 that was eight-times oversubscribed. Its proceeds were used to tackle the pandemic and boost universal access to affordable healthcare.

    The bank maintained its lead in 2021. It comfortably tops the euro-denominated SSA league tables in the year to July 20, Dealogic data shows. Europe’s currency will remain the tender of choice, given the number of global institutions still tapping investors and with public-sector clients favouring longer tenors.

    Another factor in BNP Paribas’s favour is a longstanding focus on sustainability in all its forms. “Sustainability is at the heart of our model,” says Delphine Queniart, the bank’s global head of sustainable finance and solutions for global markets. For public-sector clients, she adds: “It isn’t just about building back but building back greener.”

    BNP Paribas managed five major green bond public issues in the awards period. The list includes two for the Republic of Chile in January 2021 and one each for France and Italy in March 2021. The latter marked Rome’s inaugural green bond, a sale of 2045 securities that raised €8.5 billion.

    Elsewhere, it helped Scotiabank Mexico to launch a peso-denominated structured note linked to IndexAmericas, a corporate sustainability index developed by the Inter-American Development Bank – the first of its kind in Latin America.

    Judging by the pace of issuance in the first half of 2021, BNP Paribas’s public-sector team has another busy year ahead. A key aim is to direct more attention to export credit agencies, as economies and global trade look to bounce back.

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