Nigeria’s Access Bank targets $41 million in Africa’s first corporate bond issuance

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ACCESS BANK PLC SET TO ISSUE THE FIRST CORPORATE GREEN BOND IN AFRICA

Nigeria’s Access Bank plans to raise about 15 billion naira ($41 million) in the first quarter for climate-related funds and programs, the person said, asking not to be identified because the talks are private. Access Bank spokesman Amaechi Okobi said he couldn’t immediately comment when contacted by phone.

Following approval of its book build by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Africa’s leading financial institution, Access Bank Plc is set to issue the first corporate green bond in Africa.

The book build will commence on Thursday, February 21, 2019 and will be concluded in exactly one week, after which the funding of commitment will begin on Friday, March 1, 2019.

The Bond, a 5-year Fixed Rate Senior Unsecured Green Bond of up to N15 Billion is the first ever Climate Bonds Standard Certified Corporate Green Bond to be issued in Africa. It has been awarded a B2 rating by Moody’s and verified by PwC (UK) following certification by the Climate Bond Initiative as having met the Climate Bond Standards.

Management of Access Bank had in anticipation of the approval, launched the Nigerian Green Bond Market Development Programme in June 2018, in partnership with FMDQ OTC Securities Exchange and the Securities Exchange Commission.

While reacting to the approval, the Group Managing Director, Herbert Wigwe described it as a step in the right direction adding that it lends credence to the process and gives hope of a favourable outcome. According to Wigwe, the final approval of the Green Bond will mean another feat that is commendable and speaks to the vision of being a key player in the country’s finance sector. In his words, ‘With over a decade’s experience leading Sustainability in the Nigerian financial sector, we believe that the issuance of this bond will create a path to financing Nigeria’s climate change objectives and also unlock the country’s economic growth potential’.

He continued, citing the Bank’s rich experience in the area of sustainability as a factor that will guarantee its success, ‘’With our pace-setting experience in the mainstreaming of sustainability in our business operations, we are confident that this Issue will further help in supporting environmentally friendly investors to meet their investment objectives whilst simultaneously supporting the Bank’s customer towards realizing growth opportunities in the fast-developing low carbon economy.”, he said.

The Issue proceeds will be used to finance eligible green projects that meet the Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI) standards. The Issue will serve as a turning point for Nigeria, attracting both domestic and international investors and will set the pace for other Nigerian corporates to raise green capital.

The West African nation’s government sold the country’s first green bond worth 10.7 billion naira in 2017 and plans to raise as much as 150 billion naira by 2021, according to the debt management agency. A green bond is a bond specifically earmarked to be used for climate and environmental projects.

Nigeria is Africa’s biggest oil producer and green bonds are part of the country’s plan to cut emissions and meet its obligations to the Paris agreement on the environment. The Securities Exchange Commission and Lagos-based FMDQ OTC Securities Exchange launched Nigerian Green Bond Market Development Program last year to encourage private companies to sell climate-related debts.

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