Environmental Finance's Bond Awards 2022

Lead manager of the year, green bonds - US muni: Bank of America

Bank of America won lead manager of the year, green bonds – US muni bond for the second year running following several innovative issues.

Having underwritten over $1.5 billion in social bonds throughout the year, the bank says it "continues to be a leader" in the area.

The collective total was higher than anticipated, as local authorities sought to help their constituents recover after the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic, says Maulin Shah, managing director of municipal markets investment banking.

The bank served as lead manager for the City of Detroit's social bond, in what it called a "ground-breaking example" of a municipal bond being used to fund "urban blight remediation". The $175 million transaction targets affordable housing, employment generation and socioeconomic empowerment.

The bank led another notable transaction, in the State of Connecticut, marking the first time the state had issued a social bond for a school construction programme with prioritised use of proceeds – attempting to ensure the capital is first allocated to those most in need.

Bank of America's strategy is to increase activity in traditional sectors such as affordable housing while fostering first-time issuance in general obligation bonds.

"We ensured our issues followed best practices with the goal of ensuring seamless execution, so the first-time issuers would want to come back to the market," Shah says.

"In addition, we attempted to help our issuers pivot from traditional green bonds to more social and sustainable bonds, ensuring [they could] address and focus on target populations as applicable.

"We ensure our issues are appropriately priced and broadly distributed. We also focus on growing the ESG investor base as well as working towards achieving potential pricing benefits for our clients on our issues."