RBC leads banner year in Canadian debt markets

Thu Jan 9, 2014 7:15am EST
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By Euan Rocha and Cameron French

TORONTO Jan 9 (Reuters) - Low interest rates and favorable market conditions spurred a banner year for corporate and government debt issues in Canada in 2013, with Royal Bank of Canada emerging as the big winner among banks that worked on the deals.

RBC, Canada's largest bank, was the lead book runner on the lion's share of the issues, accounting for about 22 percent of overall debt deal volumes in 2013, according to data released by Thomson Reuters on Thursday.

The data also shows that the value of issues of corporate and government debt in Canada rose just over 10 percent in the year as tight credit spreads and low underlying interest rates, coupled with a favorable economic outlook, encouraged issuers to tap the market.

"It was a very healthy year. We saw strong appetite from investors and very attractive market conditions for issuers," Patrick Macdonald, RBC's co-head of debt capital markets, said in an interview. "In addition to strong demand for fixed rate product, we have also had very healthy demand for floating rate notes in the expectation that interest rates are going to move higher in the next six to 18 months."

The year proved to be an all-around banner year for Toronto-based RBC, with the bank also dominating the loan-syndication and equity-issue markets, while also claiming the No. 1 spot as the top adviser on Canadian mergers and acquisitions in 2013.

Debt issues in the year were bolstered by some major M&A transactions, including Sobeys Inc's acquisition of Safeway's Canadian assets; and Loblaw Cos's C$12.4 billion ($11.48 billion) acquisition of Canada's top pharmacy chain, Shoppers Drug Mart Corp.

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce came in at the No. 3 spot in the Thomson Reuters league tables for the top book runners on debt deals in Canada in 2013, just behind Toronto-Dominion Bank.