Deals of the Year Awards 2017: chairman's intro and meet the judges
February 1, 2018
High-quality nominations stimulated debate in this year’s Deals of the Year Awards, writes judging chair Philip Learoyd
Green Finance award sponsor
May we present...
Follow these category links to find out how this year's winners made an impression…
A word from our chair of judges
Round two as chair of The Treasurer’s Deals of the Year Awards judging panel has proved to be an immersive and as challenging experience as my debut last year.
The innovation and execution capability on display from my colleagues in the treasury world remain as impressive as ever. So I am very grateful that these awards allow me the luxury of seeing examples of treasury practice from a profession that, at its best, adds real value to the many companies and organisations we work for.
However, before we turn our attention to the awards themselves, a word on the judging panel. We have been through some change this year.
Some of the blockbuster deals executed this year were truly eye-opening and showcased the often underappreciated skill of spotting opportunities and delivering the superficially simple with excellent execution
Firstly, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to Julie Fabris, group treasurer at Britax, and to the Iberdrola team. Both have been members and strong contributors to the panel for a number of years, before stepping down as judges over the summer. Their input, comment and challenge over many meetings has been very much appreciated.
So, this year we welcome three new members to the judging panel: Bente Salt, head of treasury at Rentokil Initial; Matthew Hurn CFO, alternative investments & infrastructure at Mubadala, a returning former panel chair and chair of the ACT Middle East committee and treasury awards judging panel; and Martyn Smyth, director of Metal Choirs Ltd.
My thanks to these new members of the panel for their active and constructive engagement as soon as they stepped into the breach.
The new reality
If 2016 was the year of headline shocks – the Brexit vote, Trump beating Clinton, Leicester City winning the Premier League – 2017 presented the reality of navigating new and uncertain parameters resulting from these unexpected, even game-changing, events.
For many years, treasurers have dealt with economic and commercial volatility, booms and recessions, but typically within an environment where the macro geopolitical consensus provided a degree of foundation and predictability.
However, we now found many of those assumptions being challenged, if not cast aside. This forces us as a profession to think ever more creatively, to consider that the unexpected may well happen, to factor in black swan events.
The Brexit negotiations in particular have dominated the front pages over the past year. The start of phase two negotiations on the future trade relationship with the EU is most welcome.
However, we still have little clarity on what the cross-channel relationship will look like in the long term, and no doubt this will be uppermost in CFOs’ and treasurers’ minds as we progress to March 2019.
Combined with the long-anticipated start of liquidity and interest rate normalisation, the current environment provides a new opportunity for treasurers to show their worth, particularly in aligning with, and shaping, corporate strategic objectives.
A number of this year’s nominations highlighted treasurers’ proactive approach and showcased the possibility of treasury shaping, as well as responding to, the corporate strategy.
The treasurer’s focus
While the moves from the US Federal Reserve, European Central Bank and the Bank of England signalled the beginning of normalisation of the rates environment, the credit markets remained immensely constructive with record issuances in certain sectors and ever further spread compression.
Many companies, therefore, took the opportunity to refinance at better terms, delivering the core competency of funding certainty. This led to some highly contested categories as treasurers looked to lock down funding at competitive rates and secure the liquidity to prosecute corporate investment plans.
Some of the blockbuster deals executed this year were truly eye-opening and showcased the often underappreciated skill of spotting opportunities and delivering the superficially simple with excellent execution.
It was notable this year, in some of the team nominations, the increasing importance of the finance technology space. The pace of innovation in this area is ever increasing, and will present further opportunities for treasurers to automate processes and free up resources to focus on more value-adding activities.
The challenge this year was to assess more than 170 high-quality nominations ranging from classic jumbo investment-grade issuance to unrated emerging-market deals and everything in between. To be able to distil this down to the winners was a massive task, which prompted probably the most debate I have seen on the panel across a number of categories.
It is perhaps unsurprising, therefore, that there were a significant number of highly commended awards (given at the panel’s discretion) this year, demonstrating the overall high quality of nominations.
On that note, I would like to express my thanks to all fellow judges for their thorough and time-consuming review of the nominations, lively debate and genuine commitment to the awards process.
In addition, we remain immensely grateful to Lloyds Bank for its long-standing sponsorship and support of the awards, BBVA for its support of the new Green Finance award and the whole team from the ACT.
Oh, yes – about that new award...
Green Finance: in good company
This year saw the introduction of a new category in our annual Deals of the Year Awards: Green Finance. Anglian Water was named as the inaugural winner – click the category link below to find out how the firm earned this unique, debut award.
The new award category testifies to increasing levels of interest from investors in asset classes that reflect the values of sustainability and that are aimed at environmentally focused projects.
There can be little doubt that green finance is gaining ground. Anglian Water’s £250m, eight-year bond will be used to finance water preservation schemes and support Anglian’s aim to become a carbon-neutral business by 2050.
As well as funding internal products and initiatives, green bonds help companies diversify their investor base.
Green bonds account for only a very small proportion of the $100 trillion global debt market. But increasing recognition and support of green finance in the form of awards such as this one from the ACT can only help raise its profile.
So, with our new category welcomed into the celebrations, I take great pleasure in unveiling the winners of the 2017 Deals of the Year Awards.
Meet the judges
Introducing the 2017 panel, which discussed and debated who would triumph…
Our executive judging panel
Fraser Campbell, group treasurer, GKN
Matthew Hurn CFO, alternative investments & infrastructure, Mubadala
Philip Learoyd, group treasurer, OCI (chair)
Bente Salt, head of treasury, Rentokil Initial
Richard Sedlacek, MD, Rothschilds
Martyn Smyth, director, Metal Choirs Ltd
Mark Venner, treasurer operations, BAE Systems
Paul Watters, senior director, S&P
Henryk Wuppermann, head of corporate finance, EON
About the author
Philip Learoyd is group treasurer at OCI and chair of the Deals of the Year Awards judging panel