- Recent transactions take number of small and medium enterprises supported in their development and investment plans to 100
- Sustainability is increasingly relevant, featuring in 30% of transactions in 2021
- Food & Beverage and Telecoms & IT are most heavily represented sectors; southern Italian firms also show significant activity levels
With 31 issuances since the start of 2021, UniCredit has confirmed that its market-leading position in capital markets also extends to the small and medium enterprises segment via minibonds .
Following a transaction carried out for Piedmont-based firm dott. Gallina Srl, the bank hit a total of 100 structured minibonds in support of Italian SMEs - an increase of 67% in a single year.
In volume terms, UniCredit has surpassed 690 million euros with growth of 51% in a year that is proving how firms are increasingly turning towards this capital markets instrument as a means of financing their development and investment plans.
Specifically, the resources mobilised to date in support of the real economy in Italy are the result of:
- 66 issuances fully or partially underwritten by the bank, totalling more than 439 million in volume terms, spread over the whole of Italy and across a range of sectors
- 27 issuances of various Basket Bonds, with a total value of more than 129 million euros
- 7 minibonds worth 121 million euros distributed to institutional investors.
Sustainable business models are also increasingly a feature in the use of this alternative financing instrument - to the extent that almost 30% of issuances in 2021 undertaken by UniCredit on behalf of companies incorporated ESG objectives.
When it comes to the areas that the issuing companies operate in, two economic sectors stand out in terms of the number and volume of transactions: Food & Beverage, which benefited from the first tranche of the Supply Chain Basket Bond with CDP, dedicated to the wine industry, and Telecoms & IT. Next was the chemical and pharmaceutical industry; all manufacturing and service sectors were, however, well represented, confirming the instrument's reach.
The geographical spread of issuers reflects the greater concentration of economic activity in Italy's northern regions. Despite this, the bank's Southern Region recorded the highest figures, partly due to the 21 firms from Puglia that have participated to date in the Puglia Basket Bond.
"We are particularly pleased to have reached this landmark of supporting 100 companies," said Niccolò Ubertalli, Head of UniCredit Italy, "but we want to go further. The minibond instrument enables us to mobilise significant resources behind Italian SMEs in support of their growth projects. At this stage of the recovery this funding is more important than ever and supplements our traditional activities in support of the real economy. UniCredit has confirmed its position as the leading Italian bank for SMEs who wish to access the capital markets, encouraging them to diversify their sources of finance and enabling greater financial maturity in Italy's entrepreneurial system towards alternative methods of funding investments."
The minibond issuance process is very much a training ground for the capital markets: it helps firms who are the bank's customers to familiarise themselves with the dynamics and regulations of the capital markets, such as certifying financial statements, setting out a 3-5-year business plan, respecting minimum capital requirements and updating company documentation in order to be suitable for issuing bonds.
Basket Bonds played a significant role in hitting the milestone of 100 issuances. These transactions feature minibond portfolios and help to boost interest from institutional investors for smaller amounts and for small and medium enterprises: of the 27 minibonds issued under the Basket Bonds in which UniCredit acted as arranger, 21 were related to the Puglia Basket Bond, backed by Regione Puglia, and 6 to the Supply Chain Basket Bond, an initiative supported by CDP to develop the Italian economy's main supply chains.
The issuance that took the bank past the 100 figure was structured for the Piedmont-based firm dott. Gallina Srl, which produces polycarbonate sheets and systems for the construction sector and technical profiles for industry and the automotive sector. Its exports account for 70% of turnover. The company issued a 14-million-euro sustainable bond for 7 years, fully underwritten by UniCredit, to fund the transformation of a currently disused industrial area in its new headquarters. This bond issue is sustainability linked, with a structure that ties the interest rate to achieving precise targets related to reduced energy consumption levels and improved access to company welfare services.