Client stories

Johnson Matthey has the right formula for success

Accelerating global transitions

As a global leader in sustainable technologies1 with a history dating back more than 200 years, Johnson Matthey, a specialty chemicals company, applies cutting-edge science to create solutions that make the world a cleaner and healthier place. UK-listed and operating in more than 30 countries with over 14,500 staff, Johnson Matthey focuses on four essential transitions: 1) driving down transport emissions, 2) transforming energy systems, 3) decarbonising chemicals production, and 4) creating a truly circular economy. 

The company’s key business areas include ‘clean air’ (e.g. vehicle catalysts), ‘efficient natural resources’ (e.g. decarbonisation of chemical and fuel production, platinum group metals recycling), and hydrogen and fuel cell technology.

Scope 1 and 2 reduction targets affect debt interest rate

Looking to refinance upcoming debt maturities over the next six months while also extending their current 5-year weighted average debt maturity, Johnson Matthey turned to NatWest to support with a new Private Placement (PP) in the role of Sole Agent.

With a long history in the PP market – dating back to 1996 – and the existing backing of a strong and broad investor group, the NatWest team recommended that Johnson Matthey hold virtual and in-person meetings with existing investors, and a carefully-selected group of new targets. 

Looking to also align the PP with Johnson Matthey’s sustainability strategy, the deal team decided to link the tranches’ interest rates with the company’s Key Performance Indicator (KPI) for the reduction of its Scope 1 and 2 emissions. This means that, in the case of Johnson Matthey not reaching their Scope 1 and 2 targets two years prior to the maturity of the new debt, they will be charged an additional fee on redemption of the notes. The sustainability-linked agreement and underlying KPI were covered in the investor presentation and NPA, without the need for a separate Sustainability Framework.

The transaction was launched at €200 million over 7 and 10 years, with Johnson Matthey open to receiving funds in EUR, GBP and USD. The final bid book exceeded €800 million with interest from 12 institutions, including two new accounts that the NatWest team suggested they approach. Despite wider market volatility, Johnson Matthey was able to tighten the price and opted to raise the equivalent of approximately €315 million, split as €225 million, £35 million and $50 million.

Transaction demonstrates PP market’s many benefits

Stephen Oxley, Chief Financial Officer at Johnson Matthey, said: “The announcement demonstrates the strength of Johnson Matthey’s commitment to our sustainability goals and targets announced last year. The financing will help support the significant investment we are making to help create a cleaner, healthier world. To be one of the first UK corporate issuers in the market to issue private placement notes linked to KPIs demonstrates just how seriously we are taking our targets to reduce Scope 1 and 2 emissions.” 

Luke Hasham-Smith at NatWest commented: “We are really proud to have supported Johnson Matthey on such a successful transaction and also align their funding to one of their key sustainability KPIs, adopting the concept of ‘sustainability-linked’ to Private Placements. The transaction also demonstrates many of the benefits of the PP market such as delayed draw, and the opportunity to raise funds in multiple currencies over multiple tenors with no benchmark size required.”

Dean Shahfar at NatWest added: “We congratulate Johnson Matthey on their successful transaction, which includes an ambitious linkage to their Scope 1 and 2 emissions reduction targets. Financing in this format, as the next step in Johnson Matthey’s sustainability journey, reflects our own commitment to be a sustainable, purpose-led bank that champions the customers we serve and helps them to thrive.”

1. FTSE4Good Index Series: JM first qualified in 2003. In order to qualify, each year JM is independently assessed according to the FTSE4Good Index criteria. They have remained in the 91st percentile – which puts them in the top ten per cent within the ICB Supersector: Chemicals for sustainability.

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