Westpac plans euro debut, insurer QBE gender equality bond

Australia’s Westpac Banking Corporation will on Thursday begin a roadshow ahead of a planned debut euro green bond, while compatriot QBE will follow up its first green bond from the insurance sector with a gender equality US dollar AT1 deal.

Westpac has mandated BNP Paribas, BofA Merrill Lynch, Crédit Agricole and Westpac for the senior unsecured transaction, with an intermediate maturity being targeted.

Westpac sold its first green bond domestically, in May 2016, to fund renewable energy and low carbon commercial property in Australia. National Australia Bank (NAB) was the first Australian bank to issue a green bond, in 2014, and in March it became the first bank from the country to sell a green bond offshore, issuing a EUR500m (A$757m) deal.

NAB was also the first bank globally to issue a social bond promoting workplace gender equality, again in March, and Australian insurer QBE yesterday began a roadshow for the first such issue from the insurance sector. Morgan Stanley, HSBC and Crédit Agricole have the mandate for the US dollar-denominated Reg S perpetual fixed rate Additional Tier 1 (AT1) gender equality bond.

The proceeds will be allocated towards financing or refinancing investments in bonds of companies that are signatories to the United Nations Women’s Empowerment Principles (UN WEP) and are recognised as one of the top 200 ranked companies in a gender equality global report and ranking of Equileap, an organisation that aims to promote gender equality and collates data in the field.

The issue is aligned with the Social Bond Principles and has a second party opinion from Sustainalytics, which will provide external assurance in annually in a progress report.

QBE was the first insurance company to sell a green bond, issuing a US$300m five year senior deal in April. The proceeds of the issuance were allocated to financing or refinancing investments within its green bond portfolio.