About us

Our Story

DebtRay was founded in 2020 by Dr Markus Walchshofer amidst a growing global fixed-income market. The importance of the fixed-income market in raising capital for corporates worldwide has grown significantly over the past decade, particularly as corporates capitalized on the low interest rate environment. Despite the unprecedented volume of corporate bond issuance, Markus noticed a gap in data and analytics designed specifically for the issuance process.

The absence of actionable issuance benchmark analytics prompted Markus to launch DebtRay. While working at the CFO Office of a DAX40 company, he observed the alarming extent of the issuer's reliance on the underwriting banks during an issuance. Markus was in charge of the M&A function, which included managing the issuance process. When entering an issuance process, he experienced the lack of peer-group benchmarks regarding issuance timing and pricing to help set the initial price levels for book building. This left the issuer flying blind going into the process.

On the other hand, each party involved in the process, i.e., issuer, underwriting banks, and investors, has its distinct objective and interest. First, the issuer wants to issue at the lowest cost possible, but they had to rely solely on the banks for pricing guidance. The underwriting banks' incentive is to offer attractive pricing to investors so the issuance is fully subscribed, and they can maintain good relationships with large investors. Inherently, investors want to get the best pricing possible to generate a return. In this sense, issuers and investors trust the middleman to balance their interests. Markus then thought: how can I objectively evaluate the price setting and leverage my negotiation power?

The lack of objective evaluation for issuance is the issue Markus encountered repeatedly throughout his career. After finishing his doctorate, Markus started his career as a credit portfolio manager at a leading asset management firm in Germany. He actively participated in many bond issuances. The process itself was bare, with minimal benchmarking data. Due to its opaque nature, Markus could generate outperformance for his funds by creating customized analytics.

Having experienced both sides of a bond issuance, Markus asked how an issuer could independently evaluate whether an issuance was good or bad concerning pricing and timing. The realization was that there was no way; it was a black box, especially from the issuer's perspective! The absence of issuance benchmark analytics results in an information asymmetry for issuers. This asymmetry can significantly affect a company's cash flow due to higher interest rates throughout a bond's lifespan or poor issuance timing, ultimately influencing a company's market valuation.

Following extensive discussions with practitioners and academics, Markus had the idea to leverage market data to analyze a bond's transition from primary to secondary market—a market-based signal to evaluate the issuance performance. The signal uses statistical methods to track the issuance moving from the bank's syndicate-based pricing to capital-market pricing for an unbiased evaluation.

The idea of a capital market-based issuance benchmarking methodology was born!

Subsequently, Markus dedicated his efforts to developing the benchmarking system based on academic research, leveraging market data and statistical methodologies. After extensive testing and iteration, Markus created the BondRanking method. Once having diligently validated the BondRanking with many peers and academics, the benefit of issuance benchmarking data by providing transparency to issuers and investors became clear.

DebtRay's Mission

Now, DebtRay mission is to illuminate the issuance black box by providing transparency with capital market-based issuance benchmarking. With the methodology firmly in place and many advancements and features in the pipeline, DebtRay will revolutionize the capital issuance process and financial capital management.

Team

Dr. Markus Walchshofer CEO & Founder

After completing his doctorate on options strategies, Dr. Markus Walchshofer started a career as a portfolio manager, analyst and trader for corporate bonds at Union Investment. He then became Executive Assistant to the CEO and CFO at Fresenius SE and subsequently Vice President in the company’s M&A department. Dr. Walchshofer has made a name as a thought leader and publicist in the field of fixed income, organizes events in the field of debt & governance and has broad access to a network of senior decision-makers. As founder and CEO of DebtRay he is responsible for data analytics, business development and marketing.

Eric Wiegand Managing Director & Chief Commercial Officer (CCO)

Eric started his career in the ETF team within the Deutsche Bank Global Markets Division. At that time, the ETF business was a startup in a large Investment Bank. Being one of the early team members of the Xtrackers business, Eric had many responsibilities ranging from product structuring to client roadshows and helping to build the commercially focused IT infrastructure. During this time, his entrepreneurial fire was lit. For over 13 years, Eric has played a pivotal role in building the Xtrackers ETF platform. His strategic vision and hands-on approach helped make the Xtrackers ETF platform a premier global business, from a modest EUR 1 billion AuM venture into an impressive EUR 120 billion AuM ETF powerhouse. Eric is passionate about making DebtRay's Vision to revolutionise treasury management by making complex financial capital decisions easy, a reality. He is responsible for the commercial build-out of DebtRay.

Dr. Viktor Atalla Chief Technology Officer (CTO)

Viktor is a distinguished Senior Data Scientist who began his intellectual journey in theoretical physics at the Technical University of Vienna. He obtained his PhD from the esteemed Max Planck Society in 2013 and has been at the forefront of data science since then. Passionate about artificial intelligence, he blends hands-on expertise with academic rigour and excels in time series modelling. He thrives on unravelling uncertainties in data and finds inspiration in postmodern literature. Beyond algorithms, he also enjoys the precision of fixing bicycles. Viktor seamlessly integrates theoretical depth with practical innovation, pushing the boundaries of data science. Viktor is the CTO of DebtRay and is responsible for the entire tech stack. He is embracing his diverse passions to make DebtRay into a modelling powerhouse.

Frank Naumann Legal Advice & Partner

Frank Naumann is a licensed attorney with his own law firm located in Wiesbaden. He practices on matters of information technology, supply chain management (contract law in particular), licensing as well as protection of industrial property rights and beyond to tending to corporate and commercial issues. He has been advising DebtRay on all relevant matters from the very beginning and became a shareholder in 2022.

Advisory Board

Prof. Dr. Dirk Schiereck Advisory Board

Since August 2008, Dirk Schiereck is a Professor for Corporate Finance at the University of Darmstadt. Before he was a Professor for Banking and Finance at the European Business School in Oestrich-Winkel and a Professor for Capital Markets and Corporate Governance at the University of Witten/Herdecke. His academic research covers a broad range of topics in the area of corporate finance and empirical finance with a long history on debt and equity capital markets and more recently addressing aspects of sustainability and digitalization. The outcome of this research was published in several hundred articles in renowned journals. His advise is asked by a number of institutions in the German financial industry. Dirk Schiereck is member of the supervisory board of BayernInvest Kapitalverwaltungsgesellschaft and creditshelf AG. Additionally, he is – among others – also member of the scientific advisory board of the Deutsche Derivate Verband and the Deutsche Kreditmarkt-Standard e.V.

Christoph M. Klein, CFA, CEFA, CSIP Advisory Board

Christoph M. Klein, CFA, CEFA, CSIP is founder, managing partner and portfolio manager at ESG Portfolio Management GmbH. Previously he worked as portfolio strategist, head ESG credit, managing director at Deutsche Asset Management. He is a member of the DVFA Sustainable Investment Commission and the CFA ESG Technical Committee. Christoph served as a member of the UN PRI Fixed Income Working Group. He develops and teaches ESG and climate risk seminars for Moody’s Analytics. Christoph received his diploma in business administration from the University of Trier and has served as a visiting scholar at the Salomon Center for the Study of Financial Institutions at New York University.

Ralf Böckel, CFA Advisory Board

Ralf Böckel is an experienced investment professional with a demonstrated history of working in the asset management industry. Starting his career in the late 90s, Ralf worked as an analyst and portfolio manager for the major German asset management companies MEAG and Union Investment. Since 2014 he has worked for Allianz Global Investors as a Fixed Income Portfolio Manager. Ralf has gained vast experience in the European fixed income markets with a particular focus on corporate bonds as well as derivatives. His industry focus refers specifically to the insurance sector. Ralf graduated from Frankfurt School of Finance and Management and is CFA Charterholder.

Prof. Dr. Holger Perlwitz Advisory Board

Holger Perlwitz is professor for sustainable energy economics at Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences. Prior to his academic career Holger worked for 18 years in the energy industry focusing on power & commodity markets, fixed income and risk management. Holger is regarded as a pioneer in the field of fixed income investor relations and has made a contribution to the establishment of this discipline in Germany. Between 2015 and 2022, he was responsible for Fixed Income Investor Relations at RWE and innogy. During that time, he was engaged in Europe's largest bond transfer - with a total volume of EUR 11 billion - as well as the first German benchmark corporate green bond issued in 2017.