What Is a Note Issuance Facility (NIF)?

A note issuance facility (NIF) is a credit arrangement usually provided by a syndicate of commercial banks. Its structure can be used for all kinds of businesses as a vehicle for supporting the issuance of credit notes. It is most commonly used by companies wishing to raise capital in the European markets.

NIFs are beneficial for borrowers because they allow them to issue notes with commercial bank backing on an as-needed basis. This can be helpful when credit note issuance is regularly used for funding. With a NIF, corporations don’t need to negotiate separate arrangements with each issuance.

Key Takeaways

  • A NIF is a credit arrangement used to support note issuance fundraising.
  • NIFs are usually backed by a lead underwriter who then creates a syndicate of participating banks.
  • NIFs can be especially useful when fundraising is done across multiple nations and currencies.

Understanding Note Issuance Facilities

NIFs are used by companies who wish to raise money by selling short-term credit notes to investors. NIFs are commonly used in Europe.

The NIF process involves backing by a syndicate of banks. Under the terms of the NIF, the banks will commit to buying a specified amount of a company's note issuance if the company is unable to find buyers independently.

Typically, notes involved in a NIF are short-term instruments, with durations of three to six months. The participating banks earn fees from the company in exchange for the arrangement of the deal and the assurance provided by the NIF.

Typically, one commercial bank adopts the leadership role when arranging a NIF. This lead bank will then pull together several participating banks into a syndicate. Collectively, this syndicate agrees to purchase any credit notes that the borrower is unable to sell in a planned issuance. In this respect, the NIF works as an underwriter for the borrower. NIFs are therefore useful tools for reducing the risks and costs associated with borrowers and lenders alike.

NIFs can be especially useful in the European markets. The continent of Europe is divided among many countries, regional alliances, and currencies. A NIF can help to bring together large funding issuance goals across the region. Under the direction of a syndicate, NIFs can manage and plan for the involvement of funding across several nations and from several currencies.

The market for NIFs first developed in the early 1980s, at a time when many international banks were still reeling from the banking crisis which gripped international markets at that time. In this context, many banks considered NIFs to be a profitable market segment, encouraging the growth in that sector. By the early 1990s, however, more popular forms of financing such as euro commercial paper (ECP) and euro medium-term notes (EMTNs) were beginning to take over.

Real World Example of a Note Issuance Facility

Suppose you are the owner of XYZ Corporation. Based in the USA, XYZ is seeking to expand operations in Europe. To assist with this expansion, you decide to sell XYZ credit notes to European investors.

Given your lack of experience raising capital in Europe, you seek out a NIF. The lead underwriter of the NIF is a large bank with which you deal regularly. This bank then pulls together several other banks, which collectively agree to purchase debt instruments as a syndicate if you are unable to sell all of the planned offerings within a specific period of time. Although the NIF comes at a cost for XYZ, you feel that this cost is well justified because it ensures you will be successful in raising the funds you need for your European expansion plans.