BBVA top in subdued debt market

The Spanish bank overthrew France’s BNP Paribas to take top MLA spot in Infrastructure Investor Assets’ league tables for 2011, while energy continued to be the most popular sector for a second year in a row.

It’s that time of year again. No, not Christmas or New Year – it’s time for Infrastructure Investor Assets’ (IIAssets) 2011 league tables.

Last year saw a changing of the guard on the mandated lead arranger (MLA) side, with Spain’s Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) taking over the top spot from French bank BNP Paribas. In a perfectly symmetrical move, BBVA rose from sixth spot in IIAssets’ 2010 MLA league table to number one with the French bank dropping to number six in 2011 from number one in 2010.

The Spanish bank lent $4.22 billion last year, accounting for 5.11 percent of the global MLA market, to projects such as: the €7.8 billion Tours-Bordeaux high-speed rail line; the €1 billion A63 motorway, also in France; the UK’s €288 million South Tyne and Wear Waste project; and Germany’s A8 and A9 motorways, to name just a few of the deals it participated in.

Another change to the MLA league table was the rise in prominence of Japanese banks, as SMBC took the number three spot – up from last year’s number eight – and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group entered the top 10, taking up the last spot in the table. Other new entrants to the MLA top 10 in 2011 included French bank Natixis and the State Bank of India.

Interestingly, the total amount lent by MLAs in 2011 ($82.58 billion) was slightly down in comparison with 2010 ($83.9 billion).

What didn’t change in 2011, though, was the energy sector’s enduring popularity, taking the top spot as the most popular sector for infrastructure investment for a second year in a row. The sector notched some $75.6 billion worth of deals and a market share of 35.29 percent.  Still, energy’s 2011 market share is slightly down from the 40 percent it held in 2010, as other sectors – such as transport, renewables and social infrastructure – managed to attract more investor attention.

Looking at the country-by-country breakdown, France usurped the US as the most popular market in the world for infrastructure investors, which is not entirely surprising, given the multi-billion-euro PPP pipeline that reached financial close in the country last year.

From high-speed rail to roads, stadia and other social infrastructure projects – not to mention renewables – France had it all in 2011, drawing in some $23.5 billion of investor money and accounting for almost 11 percent of the global infrastructure market.