Oct 7 2022
Saudi issues ‘bond beyond oil’ as other borrowers try every trick in the book
Following the PIF’s debut bond, is Saudi Arabia a credible green investment?The multitude of unusual tactics bond issuers are using to get deals done in difficult marketsThe Public Investment Fund, Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, made a huge splash in bond markets this week with its debut deal. But the $3bn sale across three green tranches, including a 100 year bond – an unprecedented feat among debut issuers – was not without controversy.While the deal execution itself could not be hailed as anything other than a success, investors had wildly differing opinions about whether a green bond from Saudi Arabia is a credible ESG investment or not. The country is in the middle of a bold plan to transition away from oil income, which had one of the deal’s lead managers calling the 100 year piece a “bond beyond oil”, but is it doing everything it can? We examine the deal and the arguments for and against lending money to the PIF if your priorities are the environment, social wellbeing and sound governance. If anything, the deal shows there are no simple choices in ESG debt markets.Nothing is simple in the wider bond market either, it seems. Getting deals done is tricky with markets so volatile and uncertain. There is little to suggest they will become more placid, or that funding costs will fall, any time soon either. We look at how borrowers are using all of their wiles to get funding through the door while they can.