By Angeline Mgbele, Corrspondent Abuja
The African Development Bank (AfDB) was selected in a poll of bond market players as the best issuer in 2020 of a COVID-19 bond for its US$3 billion dollar-denominated Fight COVID-19 social bond issued on March 27, 2020.
The winners of the GlobalCapital Bond Awards 2020 were announced on 30 September at a ceremony held virtually for the first time in 12 years. GlobalCapital is a leading source of information on global capital markets with coverage of all market segments.
“We are grateful for the market’s recognition of the Bank’s effort in responding quickly to the needs of the continent with its Fight COVID-19 Social Bond which is an important instrument in alleviating the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on African economies and lives. Thanks to the very strong support received by investors, we were able to provide an efficient response at a very challenging time while also catering to the needs of socially responsible investors looking for impactful investments,” said Ms. the Bank’s Senior Vice President and Chief Finance Officer, Ms. Bajabulile Swazi Tshabalala.
The Fight COVID-19 bond, floated on the Luxembourg Stock Exchange and significantly oversubscribed, was the world’s largest social bond at time of issuance. The bond has since been listed on the London Stock Exchange and was admitted on the Nasdaq Sustainable Bond Platform. Bond proceeds, with a three-year maturity, will go to alleviate the impact of the pandemic on livelihoods and Africa’s economies.
“The primary debt capital markets’ response to the coronavirus crisis has been resilient and robust. Institutions all over the world from governments and multilateral development banks, to domestic lenders, to companies have raised vital financing to see them through this extraordinary period,” GlobalCapital noted in its winners’ announcement release.
The bond issue is part of a suite of interventions the Bank has rolled out to strengthen African countries’ responses to the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes a COVID-19 Response Facility of up to US$10 billion to provide flexible and emergency assistance to the Bank’s members to shore up their national budget, economies and livelihoods of their citizens.
“The African Development Bank is proud of the success of its landmark “Fight COVID-19 Social Bond”, launched to help alleviate the impact of the pandemic on people’s lives and livelihood. This transaction, the largest social bond at the time of issuance, reflects investors’ confidence in the Bank’s Social Bond framework, and its capacity to deliver. We were among the pioneers in the Social Bond market, and would like to thank all our partners, including the arrangers and investors, for their continued trust and support and share this award and success with them,” said Treasurer of the Bank, Hassatou N’Sele.
The Bank is a recognized pioneer in the social bond sphere. In March 2020, it received the Environmental Finance’s 2020 bond of the year award—SSA category— for a successful one billion Norwegian krone (NOK) social bond issued in 2019. It was the first social bond ever launched in the Norwegian market, and the Bank’s first transaction in Norwegian Krone.
In 2018, the Bank was recognized as “Second most impressive social or sustainability bond issuer” at the Global Capital Socially Responsible Investments Awards. Since 2017, the Bank has launched nearly US$5 billion worth of such instruments denominated in US dollars, euros and Norwegian krone.
The Bank is rated AAA by all the major rating agencies. In late 2019, the Board of Governors of the Bank Group approved a 125 per cent increase in the General Capital of the Bank, raising its capital from US$93 billion to US$208 billion, the largest increase in the institution’s history.