As we wrote last month, sustainability bonds are becoming one of the most popular ways for companies to raise funds for their sustainability efforts while attracting a broader range of investors. In fact, Moody’s predicts that sustainability bond issuance will hit a record $650 billion in 2021.
Today, we’ve rounded up a list of 15 companies that have issued sustainability bonds — and how they’ve done it. Our list spans a wide range of industries, countries, and continents, and highlights just how mainstream the concept of sustainable financing has become.
Companies Issuing Sustainability Bonds
- Alphabet Inc.
- City of Berkeley, CA
- Etihad Airways
- Oncor Electric Delivery Company
- Public Power Corporation
- Schneider Electric
- Tesco PLC
- UltraTech Cement
The fashion industry has come under fire in recent years for both its use of water and its treatment of garment workers. It should come as no surprise, then, that Adidas’ decision to issue €500 million in sustainability bonds last fall was met with strong demand from investors. Adidas is not the only clothing company jumping on the sustainability bond bandwagon: luxury fashion brands like Burberry, Chanel, and Prada have also issued sustainability bonds.
Insurance giant Aflac, best known for the white duck that quacks the company’s name, successfully priced its first sustainability bonds in March 2021. It plans to use the proceeds to invest in projects including renewable energy, clean transportation, and sustainable water management.
In 2020, Google parent company Alphabet Inc. issued $5.75 billion in sustainability bonds. It is the largest sustainability or green bond issued by any company in history. In spite of its massive size, Alphabet notes the bond issuance was significantly oversubscribed — underscoring the strong demand for bonds of this kind. Alphabet plans to use the proceeds to fund environmental and social projects including energy efficiency, racial equity, and support for small business COVID-19 response.
City of Berkeley, CA
Brands aren’t the only ones getting in on sustainable finance. We’re also seeing an uptick in municipalities issuing sustainability bonds. In 2018, voters in Berkeley, CA adopted a measure to issue $38 million in bonds to finance the construction of affordable housing to reduce homelessness in the city.
Founded in 1983, Cofinimmo is the largest listed property company in Belgium. The company has a portfolio spread across Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain with a value of approximately €4.2 billion. Its Sustainable Finance Framework is designed to attract funding for projects including green building initiatives and investments in healthcare real estate that will promote access to essential healthcare services for vulnerable populations.
Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, was the first airline to issue a sustainability-linked Sukuk (bond). The issuance, which was tied to investments in next generation aircraft and emissions reductions, raised US$600 million. This comes after Etihad in 2019 became the first airline to raise funds linked to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Swedish retailer Hennes & Mauritz recently issued its first ever €500 million (US$606 million) sustainability-linked bond. The offering was so popular, it attracted €3.8 billion (US$4.6 billion) in orders. Its success is attributed to the unique sustainability-linked format, where the brand will pay more interest if key performance indicators like recycling and emissions reductions aren’t met.
Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis in 2020 announced the pricing of a €1.85 billion sustainability-linked bond. The bond is the first of its kind in the healthcare industry and reinforces Novartis’ commitment to improving patient access. Novartis will pay a higher interest rate to investors if the company fails to meet its targets for expanding access to its innovative therapies and addressing key global health challenges before the maturity date.
Reducing emissions and scaling access to clean energy is a critical challenge for the energy sector. In 2020, NRG Energy issued the first sustainability-linked bond in North America, and the first issued by any energy company outside of Europe. The bonds are linked to the company’s goals to achieve a 50% reduction of absolute greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2025, and reach net-zero GHG emissions by 2050.
Oncor Electric Delivery Company
Oncor Electric Delivery Company is Texas' largest transmission and distribution electric utility, serving more than 10 million residential and commercial customers. In September 2020, Oncor successfully completed the sale of $450 million in sustainability bonds. Oncor plans to use the funds to finance projects involving minority- and women-owned business suppliers.
Public Power Corporation
Public Power Corporation is the largest electric power company in Greece, providing around 75% of the total electricity supplied in the country. The state-owned power utility successfully priced €650 million in ESG-linked bonds in March 2021. The bond offering is the first sustainability-linked high yield bond in Europe, and is tied to a 40% reduction in CO2 emissions.
Schneider Electric is a European multinational company leading the digital transformation of energy management and automation. The company, which was recently named the world’s most sustainable corporation by the Corporate Knights, issued €650 million in sustainability-linked bonds in November 2020. The bonds are linked to three key performance indicators around reducing CO2 emissions, increasing gender diversity, and training underprivileged people in energy management.
Solaris Midstream Holdings has been a pioneer in developing water recycling infrastructure in the Permian Basin. The Houston-based company, which provides wastewater services and recycles produced water from oil and gas extraction, recently issued $400 million in sustainability-linked bonds. The bonds are linked to key performance indicators around increasing recycled produced water sold to its customers.
Tesco PLC is the third-largest retailer in the world by gross revenue. The British supermarket chain was the first business to set a zero-carbon goal in 2009,. In January 2021, Tesco launched its first sustainability-linked bond of €750 million linked to the company’s commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
In February 2021, UltraTech Cement successfully completed a $400 million offering of sustainability-linked bonds, making it the first company in India and the second company in Asia to do so. Part of what makes UltraTech’s bond offering so appealing is the cement industry’s reputation as a massive emitter of carbon dioxide. As the largest cement producer in India, UltraTech cement has set a target to reduce carbon emissions by 22.2% for every ton of cementitious material it produces by 2022.
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These 15 companies represent a small fraction of the global companies that have issued sustainability bonds. Today, the International Market Capital Association (IMCA) Sustainable Bonds Database lists over 600 companies that have issued green, social, and sustainability or sustainability-linked bonds. Given the success of these initial bond offerings, it’s likely the number of companies issuing sustainability bonds will continue to grow along with an increase in disclosure and reporting requirements.
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