Finding liquidity in what was becoming a financial desert was especially important to the beleaguered auto industry. As a result of its financial strength and agility, Toyota Financial Services was able to execute or extend $30 billion in term funding in the year ended in March 2009, while its commercial paper outstanding averaged $22.5 billion during 2008.
That funding was critical to supporting vehicle sales during the crisis. While other lenders were reducing auto lending or leaving the auto finance market, TFS grew to become the top U.S. auto lender in 2008, at times financing up to 70% of the Toyota vehicles sold.
TFS won the battle for the confidence of investors, who snapped up its commercial paper in daily volumes of $4 billion to $5 billion throughout perilous October. Such strong demand pushed down interest rates for TFS, which at times found itself paying Libor minus 100 basis points. Those short-term rates anchored pricing for its term funding and allowed TFS to issue $12 billion in term notes at pre-crisis rates. Through the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009, TFS issued substantially more in the domestic medium-term note market than any other direct corporate issuer.
Being agile paid large rewards. Here TFS cashed in on work done in 2008 to reorganize and upgrade its front, middle and back-offices. "Improved visibility of markets, systems and controls allowed our team to analyze and execute quicker," says Wei Shi, vice president and head of treasury and finance. "This enhanced our position in the eyes of investors as a preferred issuer that could offer custom solutions."
TFS' funding diversification relied heavily on established connections across North America, Japan and Europe. Funding for European operations during the crisis was managed by an Amsterdam shared-service center opened in 2008.
"We realized large savings in funding costs because of our geographic connectivity," Shi reports, "and the impact on business competitiveness was even larger." No government guarantees or bailouts were needed.