Environmental Finance's Bond Awards 2023

Green bond of the year - financial institution: Groupe BPCE

In January 2022, French bank Groupe BPCE became the first European issuer to raise a green bond devoted to refinancing sustainable agriculture-linked assets with a €750 million ($850 million) green bond.

The deal aimed to support sustainable agriculture by boosting environmental management in farming and organic agriculture through refinancing relevant assets within the Banques Populaires retail banking network.

Anne Laure GarnierThe structure of the bond elicited "strong demand, primarily from ESG investors", the bank said. It adds to its existing sustainable bonds and residential mortgage-backed securities – these totalled €15,342 billion at the end of 2022.

Anne-Laure Garnier, head of portfolio management at Groupe BPCE, said the deal tackled a "rare" and "innovative" topic on the green bond market. The bond should have benefits for biodiversity and natural resources protection while boosting local development, she said.

Groupe BPCE plans to continue to be active on the sustainable debt market, focusing on its green bond strategy, while also pursuing social bonds targeting health and social housing, Garnier said.

One Bond Awards judge said the "detailed, innovative" framework provided a "great example" of how finance can support sustainable agriculture.

International progress on biodiversity shifted into action following the outcome of the COP15 event in Montreal, Garnier said.

ESG is becoming a "more prevalent part of everyday financial decision-making", she said.

Deal highlights:

Issuer: BPCE
Size: €750 million ($850 million)
Maturity: 14 January 2028
Coupon: 0.5%
Use of proceeds: Sustainable management of living natural resources
External reviewer: ISS ESG
Lead manager: Banco de Sabadell; Natixis; Raiffeisen Bank
Ratings: Fitch (A); Moody's (Baa1); S&P Global (BBB+)