Deutsche Bank Bond Drives $1.1 Million in Fees to Diverse Shops

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Deutsche Bank AG paid one of the largest fee shares ever to banks managed by women, minorities and veterans for helping oversee its recent bond sale, as diverse firms take on more significant roles in debt offerings.

Over 60% of the deal’s fees, or about $1.1 million, were split among a group of 11 banks including joint lead managers Academy Securities, CastleOak Securities, Loop Capital Markets, Mischler Financial Group, R. Seelaus & Co. and Siebert Williams Shank, according to a Deutsche Bank spokesman and the transaction’s offering documents. That compares to an industry average of 20% or less in recent years for diverse firms, which have tended to serve mostly in lower paying co-manager roles.

“This is very indicative of the trajectory of ascending roles for diversity and inclusion firms,” said Spencer Wilcox, a Navy veteran who now serves as Academy’s head of debt capital markets. “We’re graduating past these ancillary roles.”

Banks with diverse ownership have been making inroads in the U.S. corporate bond market, which has long been dominated by the likes of JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup Inc. Companies are increasingly factoring in diversity and inclusion goals into their capital markets activities, especially in the wake of racial justice protests that swept the U.S. last year.

Deutsche Bank issued $750 million of bonds through its New York branch Tuesday, and the deal settled Thursday. The four-year senior non-preferred notes, which can’t be bought back for three years, priced at a spread of 112.5 basis points over Treasuries, a minimal concession to its outstanding debt.

As joint lead managers, the diverse firms were included in every aspect of the transaction, from calls to determine when the deal would move forward, to building orders with investors and pricing, said Jeanmarie Genirs, head of U.S. investment-grade syndicate at Deutsche Bank.

“We sat around a virtual table to figure out how we could make a difference in terms of really trying to increase diversity and inclusion on Wall Street,” Genirs said. “You can always pay out more money, but the other important part was to help raise their profile with investors and issuers.”

Diverse firms not only pride themselves on their social missions, but also tend to cater to investors with backgrounds similar to their own, which helps issuers distribute bonds across a wider swath of the market.

By being in on meetings to determine if a transaction will move forward, known as go-no-go calls, the diverse firms got a closer view of the discretion that issuers use in timing their transactions, Academy’s Wilcox said. That was especially valuable given the backdrop earlier this week, when of some of the world’s biggest banks reported significant losses tied to the implosion of Archegos Capital Management. The offering from Deutsche Bank, which managed to sidestep much of the tumult, likely would have gone on Monday, but was held until Tuesday to allow the market to process the headlines, Genirs said.

Paving the Way

Financial issuers, some of the most frequent borrowers, have led the way in including diverse firms in their underwriting groups. Citigroup worked solely with Black-owned firms to distribute $2.5 billion of bonds in January, while Bank of America and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. hired diverse firms to help underwrite their respective bond sales in March.

“I give these big banks a lot of credit for bending over backwards to be more inclusive,” said Leslie Graves, co-head of origination and syndicate at women-owned Seelaus. “It doesn’t feel concessionary, they really are committed and it’s not a one-time thing.”

As banks lead the effort, corporate issuers will take notice and follow suit, Wilcox said. It’s already been happening -- Google parent Alphabet Inc. paid record absolute fees to diverse underwriters in a $10 billion bond sale in August, while Allstate Corp. in November hired solely banks owned by minorities, women or veterans for its $1.2 billion bond sale, the biggest corporate deal yet managed only by diverse firms.

“When Wall Street sets the standard, corporates tend to follow,” Wilcox said. “It sends a signal to the marketplace very broadly.”

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