KangaNews Awards 2019: Market People of the Year

The KangaNews Market People of the Year are the individuals who voters in the KangaNews Awards 2019 believe went above and beyond their roles to contribute to the development of the Australian and New Zealand debt markets. There are no restrictions on the firms, positions or seniority of winners – voters are simply asked to consider who contributed most to the market in either or both 2019 specifically or across the span of a career.

The KangaNews Market People of the Year are typically announced at the KangaNews Awards Dinner in March. In the absence of this dinner in 2020, KangaNews is proud to announce the winners for the 2019 individual awards online. See below for the list of winners announced so far and their achievements in 2019, and click here to revisit the full list of 2019 deal and house award winners.

The KangaNews Awards: Market People of the Year 2019


The process of base-rate migration is a major focus in global markets, and one of Australia’s breakthrough transactions of 2019 was SAFA’s AONIA-linked print. Andrew Kennedy has been the leading advocate of engagement with the topic in the Australian market, and he is recognised for his commitment to forging new ground on behalf of SAFA and for the benefit of the wider market. Voters note in particular Kennedy’s willingness to engage with market participants over an extended period to develop critical mass for product evolution.


The Australian capital market and corporate Australia more generally might be described as ‘fast followers’ in the ESG space. Sydney Airport has been an outlier for its willingness to take not just a national but a global lead, and Michael Momdjian has been behind much of this leadership in the funding space. The airport’s most notable step in 2019 was completing Australia’s first-ever syndicated sustainability performance-linked loan, but Momdjian’s role goes beyond transactions as a high-profile, engaging advocate for sustainable finance in the corporate sector.


There can hardly be a significant development in the New Zealand capital market that Ross Pennington has not had some hand in developing or refining. From the Kauri market and bank capital to sustainable finance and securitisation, Pennington is arguably New Zealand’s most prominent market thinker and a leading advocate with government and regulators. The words of one awards voter say it best: “No-one has given more of their discretionary, unpaid time to the betterment of the capital markets than Ross Pennington. Along with his time comes incredible experience, invaluable insights and sizeable intellect. He’s so passionate about getting the right settings and selflessly pursues them.”


Karen Silk has not just overseen the renaissance of Westpac’s New Zealand debt market business but is also a leading voice in the development of a national sustainable-finance market in her role as co-chair of the New Zealand Sustainable Finance Forum (NZSFF). In October 2019, the publication of the NZSFF’s interim report demonstrated the breadth of thinking behind the project, which seeks to achieve no less than full market incorporation of negative externalities across issues as diverse as climate, biodiversity and labour practices. New Zealand can become a world leader in this space and Silk is at the head of the charge.


In recent years, flexigroup has built a presence in the Australasian securitisation market that belies its scale as an issuer – including clear leadership as an issuer of green asset-backed securities (ABS) notes. KangaNews Awards voters recognise Bianca Spata for steering flexigroup to this position of prominence, which in 2019 included issuing Australia’s first ABS deal to feature certified green notes right down the capital structure and printing record volume of securitisation in New Zealand. Spata is also a keen industry advocate including through the Australian Securitisation Forum’s Women in Securitisation and New Zealand subcommittees.


Katharine Tapley is a trailblazer in the Australian sustainable-finance market, acclaimed by one KangaNews Awards voter as “a clear market leader in all things sustainability and sustainable finance [whose] stewardship and knowledge in this area have been instrumental in promoting and cultivating sustainable finance across Australia and New Zealand.” Whenever a new or innovative transaction emerges in Australasian sustainable finance, there is a better chance than not that ANZ has been involved – and that Tapley was a driving force behind it.


Pushing the cause of sustainable finance will require ongoing engagement from the buy side, with investors in the box seat when it comes to using capital to promote superior ESG outcomes. Marayka Ward is one of the Australian investment sector’s leaders – domestically and in global forums. Interesting, engaging and generous with her time and insights, the fixed-income investor community could not ask for a better champion when it comes to describing and delivering its sustainability drivers and a detailed account of what is possible in the context of fiduciary responsibilities.