Saudi Electricity mulls green bond sale amid Arab debt push

Saudi Electricity said it had identified a portfolio of eligible projects which are qualified under its Green Sukuk. (SPA)
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Updated 10 September 2020

Saudi Electricity mulls green bond sale amid Arab debt push

  • A green bond is a fixed-income instrument aimed at raising money for climate and environmental projects

LONDON: Saudi Electricity plans to hold investor calls this week ahead of a potential green Islamic bond sale.

The utility is among a number of regional corporations and governments seeking to tap international debt markets to raise funds.

It follows publication of its Green Sukuk Framework (GSF) aimed at mitigating climate change.

The bond sale is expected to raise between $1 billion and $1.25 billion with dual-tranche green sukuk comprising five and 10-year tranches, a document showed on Thursday.

It has appointed HSBC and MUFG as green structuring advisors with First Abu Dhabi Bank, J.P. Morgan and Standard Chartered Bank among the joint lead managers, according a statement to the Tadawul.

A flurry of debt sales in recent weeks across the Gulf markets have drawn great interest from international investors attracted by the strong ratings of many regional issuers. Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and Dubai are among the sovereign sales that have already been announced while several corporations have also gone to the market as a low oil price and the coronavirus pandemic spur activity.

Saudi Electricity said it had identified a portfolio of eligible projects which are qualified under its Green Sukuk and which are linked to delivering various environmental and social benefits.

These include a smart metering project and renewable energy integration, the company said.

The utility expects them to contribute positively to the country’s commitment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, as well as its own sustainable development objectives contained in Saudi Vision 2030.

This calls for reasonably priced clean energy, renewable energy integration into the grid of up to 27.6 gigawatts by 2025, and 10 million smart meters. The company expects to invest as much as SR9.56 billion in these projects.

Britain, EU tell each other to move on trade

Updated 20 October 2020

Britain, EU tell each other to move on trade

  • Both sides call on each other to protect billions of dollars of trade between the neighbors

BRUSSELS: Britain and the EU said on Monday the door was still open for a deal on their post-Brexit relationship, calling on each other to compromise to find a way to protect billions of dollars of trade between the neighbors.

With just over two months before Britain ends a status quo transition arrangement with the EU, talks on a trade deal are deadlocked, with neither wanting to move first to offer concessions.

A no-deal finale to Britain’s five-year Brexit drama would disrupt the operations of manufacturers, retailers, farmers and nearly every other sector — just as the economic hit from the coronavirus pandemic worsens.

European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic repeated on Monday that the EU still wanted a trade deal but not “at any cost” after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday there was no point in continuing talks.

“It has to be a fair agreement for both sides — we are not going to sign an agreement at any cost,” Sefcovic told reporters after meeting Michael Gove, Britain’s point man on the existing divorce agreement, in London.

“The EU is ready to work until the last minute for a good agreement for both parties,” Sefcovic said.

Britain, increasingly frustrated by the EU’s refusal to start text-based talks, called on the bloc to make the first move, with its housing minister saying that Brussels only had to make “some relatively small but important changes.”

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick called on the EU to “go that extra mile, to come closer to us on the points that remain for discussion.”

A spokesman for Johnson again ruled out prolonging any negotiation beyond the end of this year, when the transition period runs out, saying the EU “must be ready to discuss the detailed legal text of a treaty in all areas with a genuine wish to respect UK sovereignty and independence.”

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier had been due in London for talks with British counterpart David Frost this week. Instead, they will now speak by telephone on Monday to discuss the structure of future talks, Barnier’s spokesman said.

Negotiations broke down on Thursday, when the EU demanded Britain give ground. Issues still to be resolved include fair competition rules, including state aid and fisheries. EU diplomats and officials cast Johnson’s move as a frantic bid to secure concessions before a last-minute deal was done, and European leaders have asked Barnier to continue talks.

British officials have repeatedly said any deal has to honor Britain’s new status as a sovereign country and not try to tie it to EU rules and regulations.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said compromises on both sides would be needed. French President Emmanuel Macron said Britain needed a deal more than the 27-nation EU.

Britain is launching a campaign this week urging businesses to step up preparations for a no-deal departure. In a statement accompanying the launch, Gove says: “Make no mistake, there are changes coming in just 75 days and time is running out for businesses to act.”

More than 70 British business groups representing over 7 million workers on Sunday urged politicians to get back to the negotiating table next week and strike a deal.