Green bond of the year - US muni bond: San Francisco Public Utilities Commission

In 2020, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) became the first issuer of a US muni green bond to list on a European exchange.

Mike BrownWith its $342 million listing on the London Stock Exchange (LSE), SFPUC hoped to reach green and impact investors in Europe while setting the stage for the US municipal green bond market to follow suit.

One of the Environmental Finance Bond Awards judges commented on the "exceptional governance practices of the issuer around sustainability and resilience planning and innovative approach to marketing municipal securities to a more diversified, global audience.".

The listing also represents an opportunity to provide greater liquidity for bonds financing climate-resilient and socially inclusive infrastructure, said SFPUC.

"Offshore listing is another step in the development of the US green municipal market and the SFPUC is again leading the way. Climate impacts and clean water supply are interlinked. We can expect to see more municipal green issuers focused on addressing these twin challenges," commented Justine Leigh-Bell, deputy CEO of the Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI).

The bonds listed on the LSE were issued to refinance bonds related to the SFPUC's Water System Improvement Programme, a $4.8 billion multi-year capital programme to upgrade the SFPUC's regional and local water systems.

Eric Sandler, chief financial officer of SFPUC said: "It's a great honour to be recognised by Environmental Finance with the Green US muni bond of the year award. As a leading issuer in the US green bond market, listing in Europe has been important to the SFPUC's strategy to access new impact investors as well as provide greater liquidity to the market."

The SFPUC was the first US municipal issuer to certify a green bond under the CBI Water Criteria in 2016 and, with this offering, took the total amount raised through its green issuance programme to more than $2.5 billion – making it among the largest issuers of US municipal green bonds.

The SFPUC provides drinking water and wastewater services to residents and businesses in San Francisco, wholesale water to three Bay Area counties, and green power to Hetch Hetchy Valley and CleanPowerSF customers in San Francisco.

Deal Highlights

Issuer:  San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
Size:  $342 million
Maturity and Coupon:  $300 million 2.8% bond due 1 November 2041; and a $42 million 3% bond due 1 November 2047.
Use of Proceeds:  Sustainable water management
External Reviewer:  Sustainalytics
Lead Managers:  Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, Siebert Williams Shank, SMBC Nikko
Credit Rating:  Moody's (Aa2), S&P Global (AA-)
Other highlights/notable features: First US muni green bond to list on a European exchange