The bond markets have shown commendable and incredible effectiveness in providing for the huge growth in funding over the past two decades (with over $10trn of issuance in 20201) for thousands of issuers, from sovereigns, supranationals, corporations, financial institutions across both the investment grade and high yield spectrum.

Though the adoption of technology in primary markets has been steady and gradual, the primary issuance process remains very manual and cumbersome, causing frustration across the broad range of market participants, and not fully capturing the precise information that would benefit execution for many regular issuers in particular.

The table below shows the typical issue process for regular and frequent issuers.

Day 1
8.30am Deal announced, IPG and books open
10.30am Deal update, revised price guidance, book closing time set
1.00pm Books close; underwriters recommend and discuss final terms with issuer; final terms announced. Investors reconfirm orders
1-2pm Books reconciled by underwriters, draft allocation agreed by bookrunners and provided to issuer for sign-off
2.00pm Allocations available to investors
2.15pm Deal priced
Day 2
Morning Investors confirm sub-fund allocations (and reg S/144a splits if appropriate) to the underwriter responsible for delivery to them.
Underwriters provide deal statistics to the Issuer
Complete allocation justification sheets

The existing process is challenging, lacking both transparency and efficiency. Below are some of the challenges from the perspective of the different market participants:


  • Lack of price indication leads to frustration, and possibly sub-optimal pricing– most orders simply left undefined
  • Execution time presents market risk
  • Deal statistics take time to compile and ratify- and then often lack the desired precision


  • Sales (and DCM Syndicate) resource tied up on the existing iterative and highly manual process, often with significant and unnecessary duplication between bookrunners
  • Need for subjective view ultimately on pricing
  • Execution risk increased by manual process
  • Unwanted sharing of some proprietary investor information with competitors
  • Time-consuming allocation process (and documentation of the process for regulatory reasons)
  • Regulatory risk around allocation justification
  • Concerns over confidentiality and security of orderbook information, and issuer-specific information


  • Primary process is hugely time-consuming for investors
  • Need for duplication of information to multiple bookrunners
  • Confidentiality of orders strongly discouraged (counter-productive in the allocation process)
  • Allocation process lacks sufficient transparency for investors and leads to frustration
  • Insufficient routes to submit differentiated or layered orders (including for different funds

The BondAuction™ platform combines the following to resolve those issues and tensions described above:

  1. An auction process (a “BondAuction™”), with bonds allotted to all investors at the same “clearing price” for the issuer’s desired size (using BondAuction™’s Scenario Calculator)
  2. Clarity of issue terms and ease of accessibility to documentation
  3. Direct order input by eligible (bookrunner-approved) investors, including the ability to input distinct sub-fund orders with different parameters
  4. Ability for allotted bids to be downloaded by sub-fund, saving time and reducing errors for the underwriters
  5. Using confidential computing to ensure that only those parties that need-to-know specific orders do so, and significantly enhancing data security
  6. Compatibility with MO and BO systems for STP
  7. Precise timings allow investors to focus on multiple issues without missing book closing times, or wasting resource through several iterations
  8. Resolves the regulatory need to justify allocations

The table below contrasts the existing issuance processes with those using the BondAuction™ platform.

Current Process BondAuction™ Process
5-10% of orders with Price indication 100% bids with Price indication
5-8 hours execution time 3-4 hours execution time
Vague timings for execution Clear timings on execution
Most orders entered manually by salespeople Bids submitted directly to bookrunners by eligible investors
Investor confusion and frustration on allocation Best bids rewarded with allotment
Sales force time spent chasing orders & updates Sales force freed up to chase value-added activities
All investor information shared across underwriting group Investors able to show bids only to preferred partners if desired
Investors encouraged to group orders together Allows investors to easily differentiate between sub funds demands
Statistics released hours later without 100% accuracy Immediate and accurate deal statistics available
Resource requirement and risk around allocation and justification Automatic allotment- no requirement for allocation justification
Subsequent instructions provided to B&D house around sub-fund splits Sub-fund splits can be accommodated and allotted in the BondAuction™ system

We welcome further engagement with issuers, underwriters, and investors on the BondAuction™ platform, as well as with regulators and industry bodies.

Please contact:

  1. Refinitiv,