The KangaNews-Westpac Corporate Debt Summit debuted in 2011, with a relatively small audience and a market that could not yet take consistent supply of corporate bonds for granted. In the decade since, the event and the market have grown and diversified. By 2019 – the last year before COVID-19 put the in-person event on hiatus – registrations had more than trebled, to nearly 600, and the event’s agenda covered not just corporate debt but a raft of issues relevant to the economic and business environment.
Investors globally are increasingly demanding their allocations align with sustainability principles. As capital markets move rapidly to cater to this appetite, KangaNews and BNP Paribas brought together Australian corporate issuers to discuss their interaction with global debt markets.
Discussions at the KangaNews Sustainable Debt Summit 2021 virtual event in June suggest market engagement with environmental, social and governance issues continues to deepen. Norms in sustainability-linked instruments are quickly solidifying while developments in accounting, disclosure and stakeholder engagement are also contributing to momentum.
The US private placement market has long been a happy home for Australasian issuers. The annual USPP roundtable hosted by KangaNews and MUFG found that lower issuance in 2020 had nothing to do with lack of support from the investor base and that hopes remain high for future primary supply. USPP investors also share perspectives on the rapid growth in significance of environmental, social and governance analysis in their market.
If Australian corporate engagement with sustainable finance were measured by labelled green, social and sustainability bond issuance, progress remained underwhelming in 2020. However, issuers, investors and other market participants at the KangaNews Sustainable Debt Summit 2020 spoke of deepening commitments to environmental, social and governance risk mitigation.
When Australia went into lockdown, transport and shipping infrastructure saw an unprecedented business shock. Airport and toll-road passenger numbers collapsed while even freight flows dropped as the global economy ground to a halt. In October, KangaNews and Westpac Institutional Bank gathered key players in the Australian sector to discuss business impact, balance-sheet resilience and the swift rebound of debt capital markets including the domestic option.