THAILAND’S FIRST SUSTAINABILITY-LINKED BOND LAUNCHED BY THAI UNION
Thailand’s first Sustainability- Linked Bond launched by Thai Union.
By Amod Ashok Salgaonkar
Thai Union Group PCL. (Thai Union), the world’s leading seafood processor, has successfully priced a THB 5 billion seven-year senior, unsecured Sustainability-Linked Bond (SLB) for institutional investors. The SLB carries an interest rate of 2.47 %. p.a. and was issued on July 20, 2021.
This is the first SLB that has been launched in Thailand and follows the launch of Thai Union’s inaugural Sustainability-Linked Loan (SLL) in February 2021, further demonstrating the Company’s ongoing commitment to its ESG principles. It is another significant step forward for Blue Finance—financing for projects benefiting oceans—and the seafood industry as a whole.
TRIS Rating Co., Ltd. rated the bond as “A+” with a “Stable” outlook on July 16, 2021, showing the strength of Thai Union’s position as one of the world’s leading seafood processors and providing a solid indication of the Company’s financial standing.
Bank of Ayudhya Public Company Limited (Krungsri) is the sole arranger for this offering, while both Krungsri and MUFG Securities Asia Limited, the securities entity of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc. (MUFG), are the Joint Sustainability-Linked Structuring Advisors.
The offering has garnered demand of approximately THB 8.9 billion or more than 2.23 times of the offered amount. This led Thai Union to increase its issue size from THB 4 billion to THB 5 billion in response. This very encouraging demand has shown investors’ confidence in Thai Union’s solid business profile and a real willingness to invest in sustainability.
Thai Union’s SLB is not only the first in Thailand but also the first globally to introduce step-up and/or step-down facilities related to the achievement of Sustainability Performance Targets (SPTs). These targets include remaining in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) Emerging Markets and ranking in the top 10 companies for the DJSI Food Products Industry Index; reducing Thai Union’s Scope 1 and Scope 2 carbon emissions from manufacturing operations by 4% annually (carbon intensity); and increasing the monitoring and surveillance of Thai Union’s wild-caught tuna supply chains, whether electronically and/or through the use of human observers at sea. Investors in the bond will be entitled to a lower or higher coupon should the Company achieve or fail to achieve these SPTs in 2023 and 2026. The Company’s Sustainability-Linked Financing Framework is externally verified by Sustainalytics to ensure alignment with international best practices and standards.
“Sustainability is central to our operations and business philosophy and we have committed to a policy of Healthy Living, Healthy Oceans. This type of Blue Financing represents another way we can now work with our partners in the financial community on products that help ensure we continue to preserve the oceans that are vital not only to our business, but also the planet while providing healthy and nutritious products that health-conscious consumers globally are demanding,” said Thiraphong Chansiri, President & CEO of Thai Union. “We are extremely proud to have launched Thailand’s first Sustainability-Linked Bond and are grateful for the nod of approval to this offering through the unprecedented interest shown by institutional investors including government related funds, life insurance companies, asset management companies, and banks.”
“As part of our ongoing commitment to Blue Finance, we have also established our first Sustainability-Linked Financing Framework to reinforce Thai Union’s commitment to drive meaningful change in our operations and the industry as a whole,” Chansiri said.
Dr. Srikanya Yathip, Secretary General of The Government Pension Fund (GPF), one of the key strategic investors, said:
“We are delighted to be part of Thai Union’s first Sustainability-Linked Bond journey. We have recognized many Thai Union’s sustainability activities and operations. This transaction readdressed our goal to be the leader in ESG Investing and Initiatives in Thailand. GPF believes in sustainability and aims to become a sustainable pension fund bringing both sustainable yet stable returns to members and social returns to the society. This investment in the first Sustainability-Linked Bond provides a good fit to our ESG investment framework.”
“Sustainable and responsible investment has been a longstanding strategy at the GPF. There is no compromise in sacrificing social values through financial values or the other way around. We must achieve both. As a pension fund, our investment is long-term enough to generate both the social values and financial values. Creating social values is not an option but a mandate for pension fund like us. We want to introduce initiatives so that more investors in Thailand can adopt this ESG investment strategy.”
Sara Lamsam, Chief Executive Officer of Muang Thai Life Assurance Public Company Limited, said:
“Muang Thai Life Assurance Public Company Limited is committed to long-term sustainability by considering every group of stakeholders including customers, employees, business partners, shareholders and the society. The Company has carried out the investment by placing value on Environmental, Social and Governance Issues (ESG) for continuous sustainability and appropriateness in accordance with the duty of life insurance business on a long-term responsibility and obligation to the policyholders, while promoting social and environmental sustainability. In this regard, the Company has continuously applied the sustainable investment concept and made appropriate investment allocation into ESG assets.”
“This investment in the first sustainability-linked bond in Thailand of Thai Union Group has reiterated the Company’s intention to encourage the investment in ESG assets or ESG businesses, and to support Thai Union Group as a business partner who is well aware of sustainability activities which are in accordance with the Company’s mission.”
Seiichiro Akita, President and Chief Executive Officer of Krungsri (Bank of Ayudhya PCL and its business units) said:
“The issuance marks a new milestone for our sustainable banking journey. The successful debut of a Sustainability-Linked Bond in the Thai capital markets reinforces Krungsri’s ESG commitments and mandates and responds to our clients’ financing needs while promoting and developing the impact bonds as a viable asset class in Thailand. With this innovative financing initiative, Thai Union can both meet its financing needs to grow and keep advancing toward the company’s environmental and social purposes.”
“This Sustainability-Linked Bond also demonstrates the continued strong synergy between Krungsri and MUFG, harnessing the ability of both institutions to offer support and connect the dots for our customers to achieve their goals both in Thailand and beyond.”
Richard Yorke, Head of Global Corporate & Investment Banking, Asia Pacific, MUFG Bank, said:
“We are indeed privileged to be given the opportunity to once again work with Thai Union as it presses ahead with its sustainability mission. This landmark offering marks the second time MUFG has leveraged its ESG financing expertise and experience in support of Thai Union, further demonstrating our unshakable resolve in paving a sustainable future for our global clients and communities.”
“This successful issuance also represents the depth of our capital markets capabilities, which, when combined with our ESG domain expertise and unrivalled distribution network in APAC, allows us to add significant value to Thai Union’s sustainability agenda. Once again, I would like to congratulate Thai Union for this milestone.” added Yorke, who also serves as the Regional Executive of Capital Markets with MUFG Securities Asia.