Interview: StanChart's Cristian Jonsson

Interview: StanChart's Cristian Jonsson

Published: December 13, 2012

The bank's new head of loans syndications is preparing to take market share from its competitors.

Activity in the debt markets during 2012 demonstrated a financial take on Isaac Newton’s third law – for every action, there’s an opposite reaction. While bond issuances rocketed, deals in the loans market plummeted; global syndicated loan volumes during the first nine months of the year were down 23% year-on-year to US$2.36trn, analysts at data firm Dealogic calculate. The EMEA region’s share of that volume was just 23%, the lowest since 1998.

Cristian Jonsson knows the market has seen better days. But he’s also confident of a return to form in 2013 – and as Standard Chartered’s new global head of loans syndications, he’ll be hopeful that he’s proved correct.

“Clearly, loan volumes have been significantly down in 2012, and that is partly a result of less activity in the loan market and also the bond market being incredibly attractive to issuers,” Jonsson says.

“I believe it is key for the market in general to have a healthily functioning loan and bond market to supplement each other, and that is the situation we are now in. We are also starting to see significant M&A activity across the regions which should help to drive loan volumes up in 2013, so the expectation is for a strong year across the regions.”

Front and centre

Jonsson joined Standard Chartered in 2009 as global head of bond syndicate, since which time he also became regional head of capital markets for Southeast Asia. His promotion to the global loans role places him another pivotal post within the group.

“Providing financing solutions to our clients in our footprint markets is what this bank is about, and the loan product is absolutely central to that strategy,” Jonsson tells EMEA Finance shortly after his promotion. “At the same time, many of our competitors are focusing less on the loan product because of their own capital constraints, or they’re moving out of our core markets – which provides us with a fantastic opportunity to take market share.”

Working in Singapore, Jonsson will report to Carsten Stoehr, Standard Chartered’s global head of capital markets. Philip Cracknell, Jonsson’s predecessor, will retire in March. With 20 years of industry experience himself, Jonsson aims to build on Cracknell’s work rather than revolutionise the division.

“Philip and his management team provided long-standing leadership to the business and built the bank into a powerhouse of loans,” he says. “It is important to maintain this continuity. The existing management team is the strongest in our markets and we have the leadership and the bandwidth to continue to grow the business significantly and to dominate in our target markets.”

Competitors should take heed of those words – Jonsson and his colleagues are eager to snatch a greater amount of deal activity as the market picks up.

“The loan syndications management team and my initial priority will be focused on enhancing our distribution platform whilst increasing market share in all of our markets,” he says. “We will also be building out our local currency platform. The rest of the business is already extremely strong and we will be focusing on taking market share.”