Sustainability bond of the year - US muni: Massachusetts Clean Water Trust

The Massachusetts Clean Water Trust (MCWT) raised a total of $351.4 million from the issuance of a series of green and sustainability bonds to finance wastewater and drinking water projects for eligible borrowers in the state.

The green bonds amounted to $141.9 million and will finance projects that adhere to the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act.

Sue PerezThe sustainability bonds amounted to $209.5 million, and will also adhere to those environmental standards while also being designated for borrowers from disadvantaged communities. Only tier III disadvantaged communities (i.e. the lowest tier), were allowed to benefit from the proceeds. Tier III communities have an adjusted per capita income (APCI) of less than 60% of the state's average.

"Being the first sustainable bond issued by a State Revolving Fund (SRF) programme in the country, we wanted to demonstrate to investors the vital work SRFs finance in underserved disadvantaged communities," said Sue Perez, executive director of the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust. "It was important for us to align underlying borrower water infrastructure projects in those communities to this innovative sustainability designation.

"We enhanced our environmental, social and governance (ESG) disclosure and simplified our discussion of the purpose and benefits of the SRF programme. It is such an important programme for so many communities, especially disadvantaged communities, and their essential water infrastructure."

"Disclosure and separation of projects into green and social sub-series with corresponding Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) alignment is excellent, and is a template for all issuers," commented one awards judge, adding that the "targeting of proceeds to disadvantaged communities is also outstanding".

Deal Highlights

Issuer: Massachusetts Clean Water Trust
Sector: Municipality
Instrument: Sustainability bond
Issue size: $141.9m and $209.5m
Maturity date: 1 September 2033-41 and 1 February 2022-38
Settlement date: 11 May 2021
Coupon: 5% and 3-5%
Lead managers: Morgan Stanley
Use of Proceeds: Wastewater and water drinking projects
External review/Second opinion:
Credit rating: Moody's (Aaa), S&P (AAA), Fitch (AAA)
Principles/Guidelines: Green, Social and Sustainable Bond Principles