This is an extraordinary moment in the history of one of the Middle East’s largest economies. The changes underway in Saudi society are both palpable and visible. And the changes underway within the Kingdom’s banking and financial system are equally remarkable, if less visible. As with other countries, digitisation is causing banks to fundamentally rethink their role, while new players are providing innovative services to both consumers and businesses alike. Here, a roundtable co-hosted by BNY Mellon, the Saudi Investment Bank (SAIB) and EMEA Finance brings together industry leaders to share their views and expertise on how banks in the Kingdom are adapting to the evolving landscape and capitalising on new opportunities.
To read the full write-up, see the Sibos edition or click here (please note, the article lies behind a paywall)
Green bonds have proliferated since the first green debt instrument was introduced in 2007, with banks and corporate bond issuers leading the pack. However, project bond and emerging market issuers have been more hesitant.
Speaking on TXF Proximo’s podcast, “Transmissions”, Michael Wilkins, Global Head of Analytics and Research, Sustainable Finance, S&P Global Ratings, argues that this may not be the case for much longer.
“Because there is interest among investors to benchmark according to environmental contribution as well as credit quality, there may be opportunity for green project bonds in emerging markets to grow,” said Wilkins.
Meanwhile, he believes that green project bonds may well see a surge in market interest if the high level of environmental contribution that S&P Global Ratings generally sees from the asset class is made explicit in offering circulars.
According to S&P Global Ratings, the development of the EU’s proposed green finance taxonomy is one of the most important developments in the world of sustainable finance in recent years.
However, as with any major change, questions surrounding the implications for the capital markets abound. In an article for Responsible Investor, Michael Wilkins, Global Head of Analytics and Research, Sustainable Finance, S&P Global Ratings, considers the “pain points” that the taxonomy will have to overcome if it is to be successfully implemented and effectively drive capital towards sustainable objectives.
Namely, according to Wilkins, defining what can and cannot be defined as a sustainable economic activity should be the main focus of the taxonomy’s development, if it hopes to effectively engage the broader market.
In an exclusive interview with Into Africa, BPL Global Directors George Bellord and Sam Evans explore the impact that the global political and economic climate is having on demand for trade credit insurance to cover African risk, as well as the challenges and opportunities for the wider credit and political risk insurance (CPRI) market.
“Africa is one of the regions with the largest exposure for our clients. The high growth rates of many countries across Africa, such as Ethiopia and Cote D’Ivoire, have meant increased levels of trade, as well as infrastructure projects, ranging from energy to roadway construction,” said Evans.
To read the full interview, please click here (page 49).
The presence of new administrations across Latin America has mounted concerns over whether wholesale regulatory and policy reform could fundamentally alter the pace of the region’s energy transition.
But Julyana Yokota, senior director and sector lead, Infrastructure and Utilities, Latin America, S&P Global Ratings, recently wrote for World of Renewables, to highlight that the region’s robust regulatory frameworks will, in fact, likely support the region’s transition to renewable energy.
“Frameworks for the energy sector are becoming more robust, with energy utilities operating under increasingly credit-supportive regulatory frameworks,” Yokota argues. “Coupled with growing political support, we may see promising conditions for the energy transition to take hold.”
In an article for GTR, Joon Kim, Global Head of Trade Finance Product and Portfolio Management at BNY Mellon Treasury Services, provides an outline of the results of the bank’s recent global survey on the trade finance gap – including what participants believe to be the most effective ways of narrowing the gap.
Writing for The Asset, Commerzbank’s Agnes Vargas and Hans Krohn assess the opportunities that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) may bring for Europe’s small- and medium-sized enterprises, and how they can engage with the project.
While the “first phase” of the BRI – the construction of large-scale infrastructure – largely excludes SMEs across Central Europe, it is the “second phase” – financing and trade opportunities along these revived trading corridors – for which international financial institutions should be preparing.
Given the enormity and volume of the infrastructure projects defining the first phase, it is likely to be some years until these projects will link to enable the second phase’s transcontinental trade flow. So for the time being, European SMEs should treat the BRI as a lesson in patience. In the meantime, advise Vargas and Krohn, financial institutions should take advantage of the time they have to prepare.
To read the full article, please click here (requires subscription).
In a recent report, S&P Global Ratings has addressed the questions playing on the minds of investors over the past few weeks: how likely is an escalation of U.S.-Iran tensions, and how would it impact financial institutions and governments in GCC countries?
“While we don’t expect the current geopolitical tensions to lead to any rating actions under our base-case scenario,” explained Timucin Engin, Senior Director, S&P Global Ratings, “we do expect corporates in some sectors to face some operating weakness arising from the geopolitical tensions.”
China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) presents significant potential for the future of global trade. And the country’s reliance on the Middle East for oil imports means that there is potential for the region to become key beneficiaries of the ambitious project. This could bring significant benefits to the Middle East, including increased investment, improved infrastructure and an increase in bilateral trade.
In an article for Banker Middle East, Bana Akkad Azhari, Head of Relationship Management MEA & CIS, BNY Mellon, discusses the striking opportunities for the Middle East in China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and the role that local and global banks have to play in harnessing these opportunities.
To read the full article, please see page 46 of Banker Middle East‘s June edition here.
Following the extension to the Brexit deadline granted to Theresa May at an EU summit in Brussels from 12th April to 31st October, Rene Defossez, senior economist at Natixis, commented: “This latest delay solves nothing and won’t be an incentive for firms to invest or call off their contingency plans. This delay merely points to lastingly weak growth.”
“Brexit is much like a computer virus: it is causing malfunctions to the UK’s economic and political ‘programs’,” said Defossez. “[The] European Summit has not really acted as an anti-virus: the political situation in the United Kingdom remains deadlocked and the country’s economy will continue to suffer from Brexit-related uncertainties.”