NEW YORK, NY — (MARKET WIRE) — 12/21/06 — Barclays PLC announced that investments in iPath(SM) Exchange Traded Notes (iPath ETNs) surpassed $1 billion. The first two iPath ETNs were launched in early June, and the third in August.
Exchange Traded Notes have a 30-year maturity and are senior, unsecured, unsubordinated debt securities issued by Barclays Bank PLC linked to the performance of a market index. Exchange Traded Notes are designed to provide investors with convenient access to the returns of market benchmarks, less investor fees, with easy transferability.
An exchange-traded note (ETN) is a senior, unsecured, unsubordinated debt security issued by an underwriting bank. Similar to other debt securities, ETNs have a maturity date and are backed only by the credit of the issuer.
Exchange Traded Notes
ETNs are designed to provide investors access to the returns of various market benchmarks. The returns of ETNs are usually linked to the performance of a market benchmark or strategy, less investor fees. When an investor buys an ETN, the underwriting bank promises to pay the amount reflected in the index, minus fees upon maturity. Thus ETN has an additional risk compared to an ETF; if the credit of the underwriting bank becomes suspect, the investment might lose value, the same way a senior debt would.
Though linked to the performance of a market benchmark, ETNs are not equities or index funds, but they do share several characteristics of the latter. Similar to equities, they are traded on an exchange and can be sold short. Similar to index funds, they are linked to the return of a benchmark index. But as debt securities, ETNs don’t actually own anything they are tracking.
The first ETN was developed and issued by the Equity Structured Products Group at Morgan Stanley in March 2002 under the product name BOXES as a way to access the biotechnology index at very low cost. In 2006, Barclays re-marketed the product under the trade name [iPath] Exchange-Traded Notes. This was soon followed by Bear Stearns, Goldman Sachs, and Swedish Export Credit Corporation. In 2008, additional issuers entered the market with their own offerings; these include BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, UBS, Lehman Brothers, and Credit Suisse. As of April 2008, there were 56 ETNs from nine issuers tracking different indexes. The popularity of ETNs is mainly due to the advantages that it offers to investors.