Wednesday , December 2 2020

EU’s first social bonds prove magnet for record $275bn


The European Union’s (EU) first offering of social bonds was said to receive orders of more than 233 billion euros ($275 billion), a record in the euro area.
The bloc looks set to raise 10 billion euros from the sale of 10-year debt via banks, according to a person familiar with the matter. That alone drew orders above 145 billion euros, the most ever for a sale in Europe. It’s also issuing 7 billion euros of 20-year securities.
Investors have been drawn to the sale because of the scarcity of securities stamped with a AAA credit rating and with social bonds the fastest-growing part of sustainable finance. The offering, also the EU’s first joint debt since the bloc agreed a landmark pandemic recovery deal, is aimed at providing funding for a job support program.
The 10-year offering is priced at three basis points over midswaps, while the 20-year security is 14 basis points over midswaps.
“The books need to be large given that there is another 800 billion euros or so on the way,” said Jan von Gerich, chief strategist at Nordea Bank Abp. “These bonds were clearly eagerly awaited, and these issues only strengthen the picture that there is a huge demand for bonds at the moment.”
Demand for debt has hit all-time highs across the region this year, with Italy posting the previous record for a single sale, garnering 107 billion euros of orders for a 10-year issue in June. In the social bond space it smashed records, with the previous biggest by French agency CADES in a 5 billion euro 10-year offering.
The EU hired Barclays Plc, BNP Paribas SA, Deutsche Bank AG, Nomura and UniCredit SpA as banks overseeing the sale.
The bloc aims to sell as many social bonds as issued globally so far, for its SURE job program, though the market is rapidly expanding, up four-fold this year at above $72 billion. The EU is also set to dominate the sovereign green bond market, with plans to start selling 225 billion euros from next year.
“They could essentially be done with the SURE program now,” said Piet Christiansen, chief strategist at Danske Bank A/S in a statement.

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