Environmental Finance's Bond Awards 2023

Sustainability-linked loan of the year, Europe: GlobalConnect

In 2022, GlobalConnect, a major digital infrastructure and data communication provider in Northern Europe, raised additional financing as a consortium of Nordic and international banks and financial institutions committed additional senior debt facilities of a total of €1 billion ($1.01 billion).

Sustainability incentives were introduced with the new facilities, with the effect of lowered interest rate margin upon meeting targets for predetermined sustainability KPIs, thereby converting it into a sustainability-linked loan (SLL) structure.

Riccardo PapaThe introduced sustainability incentives are in alignment with GlobalConnect's ESG strategy, consisting of KPIs linked to the implementation of science-based targets, diversity targets and employee satisfaction goals throughout GlobalConnect Group.

The previous refinancing from June 2021 involved a new senior debt facility structure of €2.7 billion.

According to ING, which acted as the sole sustainability coordinator, this loan involved a complex syndication process, featuring multiple parties, and the amendment of the original loan into an SLL, while at the same time raising the additional €1 billion under the same commercial terms and similar conditions as the existing financing.

Riccardo Papa, sustainable finance director at ING Wholesale Banking, said: "We are proud to have been advising GlobalConnect in its ESG journey, from initial talks on ESG strategy to the structuring of an inactive sustainability-linked mechanism in its financing and ultimately activating it by including three material and ambitious KPIs.

"These KPIs do not only cover environmental but also social aspects. We've seen a lot of activity in the telecommunications sector recently, with a strong emphasis on including sustainability goals into the financing of fibre infrastructure and our strong market share is testament to ING's knowledge and experience in this field."

Henrik Schibler, chief financial officer of GlobalConnect Group, said: "GlobalConnect is truly grateful for winning Environmental Finance's Sustainability-linked loan of the year, Europe award, validating our own and our lenders' joint commitment to sustainability, contributing to a healthier industry as well as a better today and tomorrow."

The group operates a vast fibre network, covering 150,000 km across Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany and Finland. It also operates 20 data centres, which makes GlobalConnect the largest digital infrastructure player in the region with more than 30,000 enterprise customers and 700,000 connected households.