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Where the money went in 2010: rocks and bonds

Financing in 2010 was all about two themes: resources and yield.

If you had a deal that offered exposure to one of those, it was almost guaranteed to be a hot seller.

In fact, the biggest problem for bankers was coming up with the product to feed the intense demand from investors. Many companies are flush with cash as profits have poured in during the economic recovery, so there's not a huge urgency to finance.

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One major exception is in the resource industry, where companies always need cash for exploration and to finance mines and wells. Even many companies that didn't need the cash hewed to the old resource industry maxim that if the money's there, take it, because it won't always be there. With commodity prices climbing, the money was there.

BMO Nesbitt Burns and GMP Capital rose to the top of the equity-issuance league tables based on their strength in the business of underwriting miners and energy companies.

Because of the hunger for income, corporate debt, including high-yield bonds, was a busy place to be. Canada's companies were active issuers of high yield bonds. Some, as always, went into the U.S. market, but more and more found a home in Canada's burgeoning high yield market as numerous asset managers set up funds to buy the bonds.

"Retail is screaming for names they know have yield," said Greg Woynarski, Scotia Capital's co-head of credit capital markets.

It's no surprise then that issuance of retail structured product also posted a strong year. Retail investors, missing the steady payouts from the rapidly disappearing income fund sector, looked to banks to come up with new investment products that provided a regular dividend cheque. CIBC World Markets proved the winner in that business.

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