Green investments by Swedish local governments were in the limelight when Kommuninvest on Tuesday priced its inaugural green bond. Following strong investor reception, the bond size was increased to USD 600 million, making it the largest green bond to date from a Nordic issuer. Bringing an innovative approach to the market, all projects financed by Kommuninvest’s green bond are vetted by an independent advisory committee.
Sweden’s largest municipal lender, representing around 50 percent of all financing for municipalities, has planned for over a year to issue green bonds to finance and refinance its green lending activities.
In June 2015, it started building up a dedicated green loan book, covering its loans to renewable energy, energy efficiency, green buildings, public transport and water management. By early March 2016, Kommuninvest had built up its green loan book to SEK 8.8 billion (USD 1.1 billion), committing funds to 25 investment projects in 18 Swedish municipalities. Renewable energy accounted for 67 percent of the green loan portfolio, and Green buildings for 27 percent.
On Monday, the Swedish issuer mandated Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Crédit Agricole CIB and SEB to lead manage its inaugural USD RegS/144a Green Bond.
The mandate was announced at 12noon London afternoon on Monday 14th March together with IPTs (Initial Price Thoughts) of mid-swaps plus ‘mid 30s’ for a USD 500 million transaction. Indications of interest (IOIs) grew steadily overnight enabling a prompt book opening with IOIs in excess of USD 500 million. Official price guidance announced at mid-swaps plus 34bps area.
High quality investor support continued to accelerate through London morning, with books exceeding USD 850 million by 11.45am London enabling final price to be revised 1bp tighter and set at mid-swaps plus 33 bps area for a USD 600 million upsized deal. Final pricing was at 15.45pm London with total orders approaching USD 900 million from 41 accounts.
The bond received very strong support from environmentally focused accounts including AP3, AP4, CalSTRS, Erste Asset Management, Everence Financial, NIB, Raiffeisen KAG, SBAB Treasury, SEB Investment Management and United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund.
Comment from Anders Gånge, Head of Funding & Treasury at Kommuninvest:
– We are very happy with the reception to this inaugural green bond, and that virtually all Swedish local governments now have an avenue for green financing. The success of the bond is testament to the quality of our green bonds framework, and we look forward to bringing new bonds to the market in the future. In particular, we are pleased to see so many renowned environmentally focused investors in the book, many of whom we met during an extensive roadshow prior to the transaction.
Kommuninvest expects to continue to grow its green loan portfolio, and to be able to be a frequent issuer of green bonds, in multiple currencies.
– Looking at the pace and direction of Swedish local government investment, we see a lot of potential for further growth in green lending, says Anders Gånge. We estimate that, in a few years, 15-20 percent of our lending will finance green projects.
Bond proceeds are earmarked for Kommuninvest’s portfolio of Green loans, which includes 25 investment projects in 18 municipalities: Borås, Botkyrka, Eskilstuna, Gävle, Huddinge, Järfälla, Karlstad, Knivsta, Kumla, Kungsbacka, Lindesberg, Skellefteå, Trelleborg, Trollhättan, Trosa, Umeå, Åre, and Örebro. Projects include Herresta School in Järfälla municipality, the first school in Sweden to be constructed using massive wood, Umeå municipality’s ultrafast-charging electric buses, and Eskilstuna municipality’s investment in wind power.
According to the Kommuninvest Green Bonds Framework, all eligible projects must be approved by its environmental committee, comprising independent environment and climate experts from the Swedish local government sector. The environmental committee audits and finally approves green loan applications, reviews green loan reporting by borrowers and approves investor impact reporting.
Tomas Werngren, Kommuninvest’s CEO, believes that local government entities can provide significant contributions towards greening financial markets, which by world leaders has been identified as an important component to achieve global climate objectives.
– In Sweden, the local government sector invests more than SEK 100 billion annually, with a clear focus on sustainability and environmental benefits. They are key to achieving Sweden’s ambitious environmental targets.
In late 2015, the Swedish government announced that Sweden seeks to become one of the world’s first fossil-free welfare countries.
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Kommuninvest is a municipal cooperation for efficient and sustainable financing of housing, infrastructure, schools, hospitals etc. Together, we get better loan terms than each one individually. Since its inception in 1986, the Kommuninvest collaboration has helped lower the local government sector’s borrowing costs by many billion kronor. Currently, 272 municipalities and 9 counties/regions are members of this voluntary cooperation. With total assets of around SEK 350 billion (USD ~40 billion), Kommuninvest is the largest lender to the local government sector and the sixth largest credit institution in Sweden. The head office is located in Örebro.
Anders Gånge, Head of Funding & Treasury, tel: +46 10 470 87 12, e-mail: email@example.com
Björn Bergstrand, Head of Media Relations, mobile: +46 (0)70-886 94 76, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org