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Westpac Hires Top Bond Underwriter Cortes as London-Based Debt Director

Westpac Banking Corp., Australia’s top bond underwriter last year, hired Ignacio Cortes as a London-based director of debt capital markets.

Cortes will start with Westpac on March 1 and be responsible for origination and syndication in European hours, according to a statement from the Sydney-based bank today. He previously worked at WestLB AG and Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, according to the statement.

Westpac’s work on bond sales in Australia for European Investment Bank and Barclays Plc helped it top the Australian bond league table rankings for 2010, overtaking Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. in December. The lender, which managed sales for eight issuers based in Europe, has ranked first in three of the past four years, with Commonwealth Bank of Australia winning first place in 2008, the data show.

“There’s been an internationalization of Australian dollar debt product, and it has become a core currency for many offshore investors and borrowers,” Mark Goddard, Sydney-based executive director and head of syndicate at Westpac, said in an interview. Hiring Cortes will help Westpac “co-ordinate more effectively across our global platform, giving better coverage to European issuers.”

Economic Growth

Of the A$112.4 billion ($111 billion) of bonds sold in Australia in 2010, almost half were issued by borrowers headquartered offshore, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The World Bank led non-domestic issuers, selling A$6.4 billion of notes through its International Finance Corp. and International Bank for Reconstruction and Development units, the data show.

Australia’s dollar has gained 12 percent against the greenback in the past 6 months, the best-performing major currency tracked by Bloomberg. The nation’s economy will expand 3.7 percent this year, outpacing the 2.6 percent growth in the U.S. and 1.5 percent in Europe, according to economists’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Westpac also plans to hire about 10 people in its Singapore office covering origination, rates, credit and research, according to Head of Debt Markets Tony Masciantonio.

“It’s about making sure that in all the key geographies, from a debt capital markets perspective, we’ve got end to end primary and secondary coverage,” he said in a telephone interview.

Mark van der Griend started work for the lender as a New York-based debt capital markets director in June, Masciantonio said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sarah McDonald in Sydney at smcdonald23@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Will McSheehy at wmcsheehy@bloomberg.net.

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