The ICMA Corporate Issuer Forum (CIF) gathers senior representatives of major corporate issuers, representing a wide geographical and industry spread and cross-section of interests, focusing on: the effects of industry/regulatory interventions on the treasury function, primary subscriptions, investor behaviour, spreads and secondary market liquidity; new issues processes and transaction execution; debt capital markets products and alternative issuance markets; technical briefings and information exchange on features of recent deals. 

This newsletter provides a periodic snapshot of the CIF’s key priorities, initiatives and workstreams. Please contact us if you would like to flag any new initiatives, if you are interested in becoming a CIF member or if you have any other feedback. Please feel free to forward this to colleagues and peers who are also welcome to subscribe here (click on the Primary markets box).

"As an ICMA member, we are part of an international community with access to a pool of capital markets expertise able to address trends and developments in the industry. With the CIF, ICMA has ensured the involvement of corporate treasurers within capital markets, accelerating - among other things - the growth of sustainable finance globally."

Nicole Della Vedova, Head of Corporate Finance, Enel SpA and member of the CIF Steering Committee

Sustainable finance
Primary market activities
ICMA Commercial Paper (and Certificates of Deposit) Committee (CPC)
Transition to risk-free rates
ICMA news
Coming up
Other recent ICMA Webinars and Podcasts of interest


Sustainable finance

Sustainability-linked bonds 

The Sustainability-Linked Bond Principles (SLBP) were published in June 2020, and a workshop for issuers on SLBs was held in February 2021 with the participation of SLB issuers, banks, investors and lawyers. Much of the focus was on KPIs, where it was stressed that the correct level of ambition of KPIs is crucial and can be ensured by careful and correct calibration, as to which, advance engagement with investors is essential. Of equal importance however is better and simpler explanation of KPIs and how they are expected to be achieved by reference to peer comparability. And although it was considered that issuers should not be too concerned if they do not meet their targets, there was recognition of the obvious reputational risk involved. Increased issuance levels, diversity in issuers and targets and organic standardisation and comparability, all of which ought to result from more and more issuance, were all cited as potentially helpful to the development of the SLB market. 

A Q&A was released in February 2021 that expands on the SLBP which are now available in 21 languages. The Q&A was followed by a webinar on ‘Sustainability-Linked Bonds: update on new guidance and market practice’ in March 2021.

Enel recorded a podcast on its sustainability strategy, and the role of SLBs in April 2021.

Sustainability related consultations

ICMA responded for UK-based CIF members to the UK Consultation on requiring mandatory climate-related financial disclosures by publicly quoted companies, large private companies and Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs). In line with the UK’s proposed move towards mandatory TCFD-aligned disclosures across major segments of the UK economy by 2025, this Consultation proposes alignment with the TCFD’s four pillar framework (governance, strategy, risk management and metrics and targets) by way of adjustments where necessary to UK company law.

Elsewhere, the EU has released a proposal for a Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), which revises and strengthens the existing rules introduced by the Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD) and will extend the EU's sustainability reporting requirements to additional categories of companies. Overall, the CSRD proposal aims to ensure that companies report reliable and comparable sustainability information needed by investors and other stakeholders. The CSRD proposal also aims to simplify the reporting process for companies and ensure alignment with other EU initiatives on sustainable finance, in particular the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) and the Taxonomy Regulation.


Primary market activities

The post-Brexit impact on primary markets
ICMA recently carried out a study on how well primary markets have functioned post-Brexit. Feedback from ICMA’s issuer and underwriter communities, supported by data on bond issuance volumes, suggest that the end of the post-Brexit transition period did not cause significant market disruption or financial instability for primary bond markets, either on the side of the UK or the EU27. The issuance process has remained largely the same so far, and issuers have not reported any concerns regarding access to funding or investor participation in their bonds. However, the CIF will continue to monitor any effects of Brexit, including any potential divergences, for good or for bad. 

Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission Consultation
ICMA responded to the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (HK SFC) consultation on its potential code on bookbuilding and placing. ICMA’s response, which has been supported by the CIF, comes from the DCM perspective, and attempts to foster consistency in the HK SFC’s understanding of, and approaches to, international syndicated bond issuance practices. 

The CIF have responded to the ECB’s Advisory Group on Market Infrastructure for Securities and Collateral (AMI-SeCo) on the AMI-SeCo’s attempts to harmonise the processing of corporate actions by way of its Corporate Actions Single Collateral Management Rulebook for Europe. As a result of CIF feedback to the AMI-SeCo, a proposal that redemption payments should be made by agents by 07:00 CET has not become mandatory. However, payments not reconciled by the ICSDs by 09:00 CET will trigger a payment delay notice being sent to account holders to notify investors that payment will be later in the day. 

Report on Asian International Bond Markets
In March 2021, ICMA published its report on Asian International Bond Markets: Development and Trends with the support of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority. The report draws on numerous interviews with market participants as well as discussions with the ICMA Asia-Pacific Bond Syndicate Forum and ICMA Asia-Pacific Legal and Documentation Forum. It looks at both primary and secondary markets, examining trends in issuance from China, India, ASEAN, and Japan as well as assessing the market structure and dynamics of bond trading in the region. 

CIF Treasury Counsel
CIF members who have dedicated, in-house treasury counsel are encouraged to check if their legal colleagues would be interested in the establishment of a CIF Treasury Counsel Group, which would align with, but operate separately to, the CIF. 



Ursula Radeke-Pietsch of Siemens (CIF member and member of CIF Steering Committee) sits on the FinTech Advisory Committee (FinAC), acting as a conduit between FinTech developments and primary market activities in which CIF members are engaged. Strategic priorities of the FinAC for 2021 are twofold: (i) promote common data standards to enable process automation along the securities lifecycle, and (ii) tokenisation of bonds and digital currency, understanding the implications for market practice and adoption challenges (see Other recent ICMA webinars and podcasts of interest).


ICMA Commercial Paper (and Certificates of Deposit) Committee (CPC)

ICMA has expanded its existing commercial paper structure to the Commercial Paper (and Certificates of Deposit) Committee (CPC), a representative body of the wider CP ecosystem which includes issuers, dealers, investors and infrastructures. CIF members of the CPC who have not yet nominated a Principal/Alternative Representative are encouraged to do so at their earliest convenience. 

Meanwhile, the CPC is working on a white paper, which is expected to comprise a description of the market landscape and structure pre-2020, highlighting any potential vulnerabilities, a description of what happened during and following the turmoil (with reference to different central bank interventions), and recommendations for market development based on the lessons learned.

Please contact us if you would like to participate in this work.


Transition to risk-free rates

ICMA published a webinar and podcast on the global transition from LIBOR to risk-free rates in the bond market in February 2021, and continues to keep members up to date on its work on the transition to risk-free rates via a dedicated webpage, the ICMA Quarterly Report, regular ICMA committee and working group meetings and e-mails to the ICMA Benchmark Group.

The RFRWG recently carried out a Consultation on Successor Rate to GBP LIBOR in Legacy Bonds Referencing GBP LIBOR. The summary of responses concluded that the recommended successor rate should be overnight SONIA, compounded in arrears. The RFRWG made a recommendation on a credit adjustment spread in September 2020 following a similar consultation process. Together, these recommendations should allow certain fallbacks in bond documentation, which anticipate recommended successor rates and credit adjustment spreads, to operate in accordance with their terms.

ICMA and Bloomberg will be releasing a Guide to Tough Legacy Bonds in Asia Pacific in May 2021, covering current exposures in LIBOR-referencing bonds across the Asia-Pacific region, including high-level analysis of issuer type, currency, governing law and applicable fallbacks. The release of the Guide will be accompanied by an event taking place on 25 May.



ICMA news

Brussels representative office
ICMA opened a representative office in Brussels in May 2021. This new office, which will strengthen ICMA’s presence in the EU, will be staffed initially by new hire Julia Rodkiewicz, who joins ICMA as a director in the Market Practice and Regulatory Policy team, where she will contribute to ICMA’s policy work and support ICMA’s Regulatory Policy Committee. Julia has more than a decade of experience developing policy positions on EU financial regulation in a trade association environment.

ICMA Annual Conference
ICMA’s Annual General Meeting this year will once again follow a written format. It will be followed by a virtual conference, where ICMA members and interested non-members from the international financial markets will be able to hear more about ICMA’s major workstreams and ask questions. The event will take place on 24 June; full details will be available shortly.

ICMA membership
ICMA is delighted to welcome Enel SpA, CIF member and member of the CIF Steering Committee, as an ICMA member.

ICMA Education new course - Primary Market Financial Technology 
To reflect the growing influence of fintech on different processes within DCM, ICMA Education is launching a new course. Entitled Primary Market Financial Technology, it is designed for DCM staff who want to expand their knowledge of the technology sector with a review of the role of technology over a number of key themes, such as exploring what technology currently exists within the primary markets, how technology is developed and regulated, the importance of the user experience and many more.

ICMA Quarterly Report
Don’t forget to read the latest edition of the ICMA Quarterly Report, which covers primary markets; secondary markets; repo and collateral markets; sustainable finance; asset management; FinTech and the transition to risk-free rates.



Coming up



Other recent ICMA Webinars and Podcasts of interest

ICMA podcast      

Tokenisation and central bank digital currency – the impact on bond markets
29 March 2021 This ICMA virtual event focused on the tokenisation of financial assets and Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) with presentations from SIX Digital Exchange, BIS Innovation Hub and the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

ICMA podcast  

ICMA Podcast: Whatever happened to underwriting?
15 March 2021 Bond market veteran Chris O’Malley examines the role of underwriting and underwriting risk over 60 years in the cross-border bond markets.

ICMA podcast  

ICMA Future Leaders: Professional life in and after the COVID-19 pandemic, from the perspective of the capital markets lawyer
10 March 2021 A panel of highly experienced capital markets lawyers gave their insights on the consequences of the pandemic for the next generation and the way in which they will need to adapt their approach to career progression and networking for at least the near to medium term.






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