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Best sovereign borrower – Asia: Republic of the Philippines

Bankers are unanimous in their praise of the sovereign’s strategy.

The world’s best borrowers in 2006

This is the second year in a row that the Republic of the Philippines has won Euromoney’s best sovereign borrower award. A call around all of the major debt capital markets desks confirmed that the choice this year was even clearer.

The republic tapped the market just three times in the past 12 months from five global bond issues, a sharp reduction on previous years. The new strategy that started the previous year marks a policy shift away from the tendency to tap existing issues that often upset incumbent investors.

“The republic has taken a strategic view of the market and their funding requirement rather than focusing on the basis points,” says Mark Leahy, head of Asian debt syndicate at Deutsche Bank, which led every Philippines deal this year. “They’ve totally adjusted their behaviour to become a world class frequent borrower. They tell the market exactly what they’re going to do and do exactly that.”

The consequence of the change in approach is of course much larger issues. Investors tend to favour these because of enhanced liquidity, provided they are attractively priced,

“We’ve moved deliberately from frequent smaller issues to benchmark sizes – bigger, more liquid,” says Omar Cruz, treasurer of the Republic of the Philippines.

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