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Power company pioneers green bond in world’s top oil exporter

Published 11 Sep,2020 via Bloomberg Markets - Saudi Electricity Co. sold the first green bond from the world’s largest oil-exporting nation, the latest milestone in the expansion of environment-friendly debt instruments.

State-owned Saudi Electricity sold $1.3 billion of 5- and 10-year dollar-denominated green sukuk to finance green capital projects. Final spreads narrowed 30 basis points for both maturities from initial price talks to 140 basis points and 170 basis points, respectively, according to details of the deal that priced on Thursday.

Saudi Arabia has pledged to diversify its economy away from oil, and plans to spend billions of dollars on projects ranging from futuristic cities to tourism and financial services. It also joins a resurgence in green issuance among countries and companies, with placements topping last year’s tally for the year-to-date period.

Germany, Sweden and Daimler AG all issued their first green deals this month after a flurry of sales in August. Hungary sold the first green note denominated in Japanese yen by a foreign nation on Friday.

“The new Saudi Electricity bonds will have a somewhat larger investor base,” said Trieu Pham, a strategist at ING Groep NV in London.

Asset managers are looking to stand out by adopting ESG criteria for some or all of their funds, according to Pham, who said that emerging-market exchange traded funds focused on ESG credits are also starting to appear.

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