By Denise A. Valdez, Senior Reporter

BOND LISTINGS on the Philippine Dealing & Exchange Corp. (PDEx) are projected to set a new record in 2021 as the debt market operator targets to launch a digital portal before the year ends.

PDEx is also expecting to maintain last year’s record of P375.6-billion bond listings by the end of 2020, on the back of robust issuances amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The local debt market had its 30th listing for the year through Del Monte Philippines, Inc. on Oct. 30, bringing the total amount of new listings to P335.6 billion so far in 2020.

“We anticipate that by yearend, the new bond listings will be close to the same level as last year,” PDEx President and Chief Executive Officer Antonino A. Nakpil said in an e-mail.

He said the market’s performance exceeded PDEx’s projections for the year, considering how the coronavirus pandemic slowed economic activity.

“I would add that much credit for this resilience is due to the regulators, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and the Securities and Exchange Commission, the former for its preemptive tactics to provide liquidity to the market, and to both for their equally accommodative stances toward electronic submissions and other processes, which collectively reduced the risk of the financial and capital markets adding more problems to the national crisis,” Mr. Nakpil said.

The pandemic has pushed PDEx to accelerate its launch of a digital portal for issues before the year ends, with full operations expected in 2021.

“We are ambitiously targeting to exceed the 2019 record for new listings next year,” Mr. Nakpil said. “We are basing this on a number of returning bond issuers that have previously issued bonds within the two- to three-year tenors and would be likely to come back to market for fresh funding.”

“That target also factors in new corporate issuers coming to market, especially when the PDS Issue Portal would be in full operation within 2021,” he added.

The PDS Issue Portal is a digital platform that will allow the electronic submission of requirements for issuers, and on-boarding of client investors for securities salespersons. It is seen to facilitate more bond listings by simplifying the process for companies and investors.

“It is envisioned that the streamlined activities, shorter times and simpler processes for issuers and investors, would translate to extending the benefits of fixed-income securities to many more investors and generate capital funding for more corporate issuers,” Mr. Nakpil said.

In September, PDEx reported that corporate bonds stood at P1.48 trillion as of August, more than doubling its level four years ago. New listings continue to expand every year, reaching P375.6 billion in 2019, P256.4 billion in 2018, P207.4 billion in 2017 and P136.5 billion in 2016.