Europe’s Coal Champion Pioneers Use of Sovereign Green Bonds

  • Country selling 750 million euros at 48bps over midswaps
  • Annual green bond market to reach $700 billion by 2030: BofAML

Poland, defender of a smokestack energy sector to support its coal industry, is set to become the first country to issue a class of bond that raises money for environmental projects.

The government is selling 750 million euros ($796 million) in five-year "green bonds" at 48 basis points over midswaps, according to a person familiar with matter, who is not authorized to speak publicly and asked not to be identified. The offer tightened from initial guidance of about 60 basis points over midswaps, the person said.

Poland, which uses coal to generate almost 90 percent of its power, makes an unlikely pioneer in sovereign green bonds. Prime Minister Beata Szydlo this year astonished European Union lawmakers by lobbying for more aid to the coal industry, Europe’s biggest, while the government has stifled competition from wind energy by tightening rules on installing new turbines.

“It is a nice marketing job for the Polish government," said Peter Schottmueller, head of emerging-market and international fixed income at Deka Investment GmbH in Frankfurt, who helps manage $13 billion and was considering buying the bond. "There was a lot of noise between the Polish government and the EU.”

While state borrowers account for about a quarter of green bond issuance this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, Poland is the first national government to get a deal underway. Sales of the securities may reach $87.2 billion for 2016, from $47.8 billion last year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. France is also planning to sell “several billion euros” in green bonds this year, Environment Minister Segolene Royal said in September, though it has not hired banks to structure a deal.

The deal terms on the new notes offer investors a premium to yields on existing Polish government bonds, said Dmitri Barinov, who helps oversee $2.6 billion in assets as a money manager at Union Investment Privatfonds GmbH in Frankfurt, and bid for the new securities.

“Poland’s January 2022 bond yields 0.4 percent and the new one will be coming around 0.6 percent, so it’s 50 percent more yield,” Barinov said.

HSBC Holdings Plc, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and PKO Bank Polski SA are arranging the sale following investor meetings in London, Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Munich last week.

— With assistance by Jess Shankleman

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