Building out a green curve with UK Green Gilts
In November 2020, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, announced that the UK will issue their first ever Sovereign Green Bond in 2021, with the aim to build out a "green curve" over the coming years, to help fund projects to tackle climate change and finance much-needed infrastructure investments that help increase the climate resilience of the UK.
Preparing for the debut green issuance, the United Kingdom Debt Management Office (DMO) published the UK government’s Green Financing Framework on 30 June 2021. Apart from detailing the types of expenditures that will be financed through the proceeds of the Green Gilt issuances, the government commits in the Framework to report on the social co-benefits of the green projects, such as job creation.
The inaugural 12-year Green Gilt, launched via syndication in September this year, drew record demand of over £100 billion and marked the largest ever sovereign issue of a Green Bond with a volume of £10 billion.
Investors line up for longest dated sovereign Green Bond in the market
After a landmark week of Government announcements - including the Net Zero Strategy, Net Zero Review Final Report, Heat and Buildings Strategy, Greening Finance: A Roadmap to Sustainable Investing, the DMO issued its second Green Gilt, also via syndication, in October 2021, which NatWest supported in the role of Joint Bookrunner.
Investor orders for the £6 billion Green Gilt, which matures in July 2053, making it the longest dated sovereign Green Bond currently outstanding in the market, rose to over £74 billion. The bond, which will finance projects such as offshore windfarms, zero-emission buses and schemes to decarbonise homes and buildings, carries a coupon of 1.5%. The yield on the Green Gilt was set 1 basis point lower than that on the reference 2052 non-green Gilt.
Domestic investors bought 88% of the bond. This represented a lower percentage than usual at a standard syndication, indicating that the Green Gilt has a broader international appeal, and, as such, successfully attracts new investors – including from overseas – to the UK market.
With this green issuance, the DMO has now successfully delivered on the government’s commitment to issue a minimum of £15 billion of Green Gilts in 2021-22 and, by introducing a second maturity point, has begun implementing the government’s plans to build out a green yield curve in coming years. With these two green transactions the DMO has also become one of the top three largest sovereign issuers of Green Bonds in the world.
Historic transaction underlines UK leadership ambitions in the fight against climate change
Sir Robert Stheeman, the Chief Executive of the DMO, said: “I am delighted with the successful launch of the UK’s second green gilt, which follows the very well received launch of our inaugural green gilt last month. Our green gilt issuance is supporting the UK’s ambitious environmental and climate goals, and we have been strongly impressed by the encouragement we have received from the market throughout this process. Today’s very strong level of investor support for the second green gilt launch fully confirms this. I would like to thank the gilt market again for so enthusiastically welcoming these two landmark green transactions.”
Commenting on the transaction, Alison Rose, CEO, NatWest, said: "There is a great deal of excitement surrounding the announcement of the Government's Net Zero Strategy, setting the agenda for the coming decades. Alongside how HMT and DMO are establishing the green financing framework this is crucial to all of our futures. At NatWest we are highly supportive of this transaction and pleased to play our role in supporting the UK's commitment to net zero."
Robert Begbie, CEO, NatWest Markets, said: "At NatWest we have announced a pledge of £100bn of Climate and Sustainable Finance and Funding for 2022 – 2025. Our joint lead manager position on this transaction underlines the important role financial services will play in the UK journey to net zero."
Kerr Finlayson, Head of Frequent Borrower Group Syndicate, NatWest, commented: “We’re proud to have been mandated for this historic transaction. The incredible investor demand highlights the support for the UK government’s Net Zero Strategy and initiatives to grow the Sustainable Finance market. At NatWest we recognise that climate change is a global issue with significant implications for our customers, colleagues, suppliers and partners, and we believe that NatWest has a duty to play a leading role in the transition towards a low-carbon economy by providing sustainable financing, as well as supporting our clients with their capital markets transactions.”
Caroline Haas, Head of Climate and ESG Capital Markets, NatWest, added: “It is of paramount importance to our business to support sovereigns, supranationals and agencies, municipalities, the public sector, housing associations, financial institutions and corporates through every step of their sustainability journey to create a greener and fairer economy. We’re delighted to have been able to assist the DMO with their second Green Gilt syndication, through which they have demonstrated their leadership in the fight to tackle climate change, particularly ahead of COP26 next month.”
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