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European finance directors: alternative finance now a major source of funding – more alternatives needed

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05 November 2014

Research published by Allen & Overy today reveals the extent to which alternative finance has already become a significant contributor to the funding mix for European corporates – having risen to rival bank lending in the past five years, according to finance directors across western Europe.

The survey of over 200 senior finance executives at medium and large, non-financial corporates across Europe by YouGov, revealed that while bank lending remains the single largest source of funding for European corporates, accounting for, on average, 43% of all funding – alternative finance has risen to 41% on average. Use of capital markets has declined slightly to 16%.

This is a trend that is set to continue with nearly half (47%) of respondents revealing they expect their use of alternative finance to increase over the next five years, compared to just 13% who expect it to decrease – the rest anticipate it will remain the same. This compares with 31% of finance chiefs predicting their use of bank lending will decrease over the next five years and 28% expecting it to increase. For capital markets a net 10% expect to see an increase in the use of this source of funding (24% increase v 14% decrease).

Commenting, Philip Smith, a partner in Allen & Overy’s Finance practice said: “This research confirms that alternative funding, far from being a newcomer, has already moved into the mainstream. If alternative finance now accounts for 41% of European companies’ debt, but the value of loans in Europe this year is set to exceed that of 2008 while, according to the ECB, new lending from banks themselves is down by 42% over the same period, it would seem to indicate that banks are continuing to arrange the deals, but the money is just coming from an increasing variety of sources.”

One source that is expected to play an increasingly important role is the European private placement market. With 80% of respondents agreeing that it is important to have viable alternative sources of funding available to businesses in Europe, 66% believe an effective and efficient pan-European private placement market would provide an important alternative source of funding for their business. A further 66% agree that a pan-European private placement market is likely to happen. But in what form?

According to our research, the most important factors in making a pan-European private placement market attractive to both investors and issuers are, in order, transparency and predictability of transaction costs; a clear and predictable execution process and timeline; denominated in their currency (euro/sterling); and standardised documents.

Corporates still see an important role for banks with 53% saying they would like the market to be intermediated by banks compared to just 33% who would prefer to go direct to investors – a further 15% are unsure.

Its scope should also be as broad as possible with 67% of respondents saying they would prefer the market to be pan-European rather than purely domestic and country by country (20%).

For further information, please contact Susanna Robinson,, on +44 (0)20 3088 3918 or Rebecca Hooper,, on +44 (0)20 3088 2152.

See the Alternative Credit Provision page here.

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