The JSE is a pioneer in sustainability and was the first stock exchange to introduce a sustainability index and require companies to report using the integrated reporting framework. The JSE is also a founding partner of the Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative.
What are sustainability-linked bonds?
Sustainability-linked bonds are debt securities were borrowers, usually governments or large corporations, issue bonds to fund sustainability-related initiatives. These are fixed-income investments that trade on the JSE’s Interest Rate Market. There are various types of Sustainability-linked bonds.
These sustainability- linked debt securities which are bonds whereby the proceeds from the issuance can ear marked for green or other sustainability purposes.
Like all bonds, sustainability-linked bonds specify the maturity date (the date on which bondholders will be repaid the loan's principal) and the interest to be paid (which may be fixed or variable).
Sustainability-Linked Debt Securities do not require a ring-fencing of the use of proceeds, giving the issuer flexibility on disbursing the funds raised as long as it meets the agreed sustainability-related goals and targets. These are forward-looking in nature and are also referred to as performance-linked securities. The issuer will need to report annually on its performance against its targets, and the cost of capital is linked to achieving these targets with a “step-up” or “step-down” element.
The JSE’s Sustainability Segment currently lists Sustainability Use of Proceeds Debt Securities, which require issuers to disclose in which sustainability assets they will invest the proceeds.
What does it do?
Sustainability-linked bonds are designed to provide the capital needed to fund business growth requirements at a lower cost to issuers while meeting sustainability targets.
Issuers also tend to improve their reputation thanks to the societal benefits and increased disclosure requirements associated with Sustainability-linked Bonds.
For institutional investors, sustainability-linked bonds provide an opportunity to support socially responsible investing and to meet client mandates, along with the additional benefits associated with investing in highly regulated instruments with a strong emphasis on transparency.
Who is it for?
Bonds are generally issued by governments, government agencies and large private corporations as bonds are typically backed by the issuer’s balance sheet.
Investors benefit from easy access to globally recognised and socially responsible investment options, a high level of transparency and exposure to an increasingly important component of economic activity. Sustainability-linked Bonds are appropriate for consideration by institutional, professional, and individual investors.
What are the requirements?
During the listing process, the issuer can apply to have the issuance labelled as a sustainability-linked bond. The JSE’s Issuer Regulation team will assess whether the application complies with the sustainability-linked bond standard. The criteria for the Sustainability Segment are based on the following principles:
The listing of sustainability-linked debt securities (new issuance or framework) is granted subject to compliance with the Debt Listings Requirements - provided the debt securities are issued per the sustainability-linked standards as supported by a complete review report.
Provide an external review:
Applicant issuers must appoint an independent external reviewer per the guidelines on external reviews.
How to access sustainability-linked bonds?
Investors may trade in sustainability-linked bonds in the same way as any other security.
Prospective issuers must be registered clients of a JSE member