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Philip Vernon, global practice co-head of corporate projects at Ashurst, sets out his view on the short-term and long-term implications for project finance.
It was natural to expect an initial tightening of credit markets following the Brexit vote. Stock and currency exchange volatility and changes to inflation and interest rate expectations have had a destabilising effect. The majority of economists were clear that Brexit would have negative repercussions—differing only on the predicted degree of severity. It is, therefore, not surprising to see how markets have reacted, especially as they had seemingly priced in a Remain vote. This translated into a falling pound, concerns about the UK commercial real estate sector, and also wider anxiety about the financial health of certain European banks.
Early market evidence, as reflected in the July Bank of England Financial Stability Report, suggests that for many UK borrowers any increase in margin cost has been more than offset by tightening gilts yields or wholesale funding costs. This is encouraging when compared to the funding cost ‘blow-outs’ of the GFC.
Most commentators expect the credit markets to be more resilient than was the case during the GFC. In particular, despite the initial bank downgrades and sell-offs, many banks are thought to be in a stronger position than they were during the GFC in terms of their ability to withstand both short-term shocks and longer-term underperformance of the economy. Even if wholesale funding costs increase, the capital and liquidity positions of most banks have improved materially and are likely to benefit further from the monetary stimulus policies of the central banks. For
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