Environmental Finance's Bond Awards 2023

Highly commended, sustainability-linked bond of the year: Blue Bond for Ocean Conservation for Barbados

The debt-for-nature conversion underpinning the $73 million Barbados marine conservation sustainability-linked bond is expected to save the island $50 million over the next 15 years in a deal structured by Credit Suisse.

The structure built upon the sustainability-linked bond model while maximising funds available to biodiversity projects. The bond should help Barbados, a country particularly vulnerable to climate change, to protect 30% of its ocean area by 2030, in line with the 2022 United Nations Biodiversity Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.

One Environmental Finance Bond Awards judge said the bond was a "a showcase deal for the country – very timely objective and nice collaboration with multilateral institution". Another said it displayed "measurable impact, unlike the vast majority of sustainability-linked bonds".

The deal, which has been co-guaranteed between The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the Inter-American Development Bank, saw Barbados receive a loan of $150 million to buy back some of its sovereign debt.

The loan was arranged by Credit Suisse, which also structured the $73 million of bonds under the Nature Conservancy's Blue Bonds for Ocean Conservation programme issued to partially finance the loan. CIBC FirstCaribbean financed the remaining capital in Barbados dollars.

Barbados's savings will be redirected to the Barbados Environmental Sustainability Fund (BESF). The TNC's Blue Bonds for Ocean Conservation programme has previously partnered with the Seychelles and Belize on similar mechanisms.

In addition, the 30% ocean protection target is a conservation key performance indicator for Barbados, failure of which could result in increased payments to the BESF.

Credit Suisse and CIBC committed capital to finance the entire bonds' buyback. This provided Barbados with "certainty of execution without any negative market impact to their Eurobonds", the Swiss bank said.

The bonds were placed across the US and Europe with institutional investors by Credit Suisse.

Deal highlights:

Issuer: BB Blue Financing DAC
Borrower: The Government of Barbados
Size: $73 million
Maturity: 20 September 2037 (Series A1) and 20 September 2029 (Series A2),
Coupon: 4.395%
Use of proceeds: Advance a loan to the borrower for the purpose of the debt for nature exchange
Lead manager: Credit Suisse
Ratings: Aaa (Series A1), Aa2 (Series A2) by Moody's
Other highlights/notable features: Includes a natural disaster and pandemic clause