Crédit Agricole Corporate & Investment Bank (CACIB) has seized the title of leading underwriter in the green bond market for 2017.
The French bank was a lead manager in 81 green bond deals in the year – 30 more than any of its rivals, according to Environmental Finance's Green Bond Database, putting its share of the market at $9 billion.
"We have been in some of the largest trades of 2017," said Tanguy Claquin, head of sustainable banking at CACIB, pointing to the bank's involvement with the record-breaking, €7 billion French sovereign green bond, as well as chunky issues from China's ICBC, French utility Engie, China Development Bank and Spanish utility Iberdrola. "We have often played the structuring role," he added.
France's strong year for green bonds undoubtedly helped CACIB's cause, as it vied for top spot with London and New York-based rivals. But Claquin argued that CACIB is present in all the main countries active in the market.
"We are a global house with a strong team of eight people working on green bonds," he argued. "We are very strong in Germany, US multilaterals, Sweden – there are no countries among the most active in the green bond market where we are not strong," he added. "We are probably the number one bank in the Asian green bond market – we invested early there. This product makes a lot of sense given the importance of environmental matters in Asia.
"We will continue to be a reference bank going forward."
The figures for CACIB were further boosted by a number of green-labelled private placements issued by the bank, which were underwritten by CACIB.
Claquin is "quite bullish" about the market's prospects. CACIB predicts that there will be some €165 billion of green and social bonds next year, which is about 30% up on 2017, according to figures compiled by the bank.
He sees growth coming from "banks, local authorities and agencies". Sovereign green bonds also have the potential to boost the market, but Claquin describes these as "a wild card", arguing that "issuing a sovereign green bond is a long process".
"We expect Asia to drive volume, with the recovery of China and the take-off of emerging Asia and Japan," he says of 2018. "We expect China to continue to be an important player in the market."
He added that IFC's Cornerstone Green Bond Fund, managed by CACIB's sister company Amundi, is set to be "a fantastic development" for the market. It has raised $1.4 billion to encourage banks in emerging markets to issue green bonds.
The one note of caution sounded by an upbeat Claquin surrounded the integrity of the market.
"The market relies on credibility and transparency regarding the assets financed. Some transactions have been below the bar. The market is big enough to withstand some reputational events but it's about quality not quantity."