SYDNEY, March 17 National Australia Bank (NAB),
the country's fourth-largest lender by market value, said on
Friday it sold A$500 million ($384 million) of "gender equality"
social bonds, amid burgeoning demand for ethical investments.
Ethical investing in Australia has doubled to A$51.5 billion
in the last two years, according to the Responsible Investment
AMP Capital, which manages A$165 billion of assets, said on
Thursday it would sell A$570 million worth of tobacco and weapon
manufacturing-related stock and bond holdings under its revised
Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) programme and
Responsible Investment Philosophy.
Australia is lagging many of its peers when it comes to
responsible bond issuance. There has been a meagre A$3.5 billion
worth of debt, nearly all green bonds, sold so far in the
Proceeds of the NAB issue will refinance loans made to a
portfolio of businesses, including law firms and property
companies, that have a gender equality citation from Australian
government body Workplace Gender Equality Agency.
The self-arranged five-year issue, to be rated AA minus by
S&P and Fitch and Aa2 by Moody’s, paid a margin of 95 basis
points over bank bill swap rate.
Gender equality bonds are rare in the responsible investing
space globally, but the NAB sale follows similar issues in Japan
"We bought the NAB issue because it is difficult to access
social bonds," said Gavin Goodhand, a portfolio manager at
Altius Asset Management.
The company runs a A$93 million sustainable bond fund which
excludes tobacco, arm and thermal coal related investments.
Earlier this week, the financing arm of the state of
Queensland, Queensland Treasury Corp (QTC), sold the biggest
green bond to date by an Australian borrower with a A$750
The offer was backed by four electric rail and rolling stock
projects, a cycleway and a Queensland solar farm.
Green bonds are another type of responsible investing.
($1 = 1.3016 Australian dollars)
(Additional reporting by John Weavers; Editing by Kim Coghill)