Dutch Retailer Ahold Delhaize Issues $681 Million Sustainability Bond

Dutch retailer Ahold Delhaize issued its first sustainability bond for €600 million, around 681 million in US dollars, with a term of six years. The company says that proceeds from the bond will finance environmental projects and community initiatives.

These new or existing initiatives fall into three categories: sustainably produced product procurement, climate impact reduction, and the promotion of healthier eating, according to the company. The Ahold Delhaize Sustainability Bond Committee plans to oversee the allocation of proceeds as well as report on them.

Megan Hellstedt, vice president of sustainable retailing for the retailer, said that the company plans to invest in procuring sustainably produced certified products such as seafood, coffee, tea, and cocoa. Other investments, she said, will be in green buildings, energy efficiency, renewable energy, and waste prevention, in addition to expanding healthier eating initiatives.

Her colleague Miguel Silva Gonzalez, senior vice president and treasurer for the company, said that they will publish yearly updates on their website so investors and other interested parties can monitor how Ahold Delhaize allocates the proceeds.

Sustainalytics, and independent global provider of ESG and corporate governance research and ratings to investors, has been appointed to conduct an annual review of the investments.

“The issuance of our first sustainability bond is a vital step in creating and sharing sustainable value for all stakeholders,” said Frans Muller, chief executive officer. Ahold Delhaize owns a number of brands worldwide including Food Lion, Hannaford, Stop & Shop, and Giant Food in the United States.

The sustainability bond issuance is priced at 99.272% and carries an annual coupon of 0.250%, the retailer says. “The notes will settle on June 26, 2019, and shall be listed on Euronext Amsterdam,” the company said. “J.P. Morgan acted as sustainability bond structuring agent and BNP Paribas, BofA Merrill Lynch, ING, J.P. Morgan and Rabobank acted as joint bookrunners.”

Green bond issuance worldwide just surpassed the $100 billion mark for 2019, the Climate Bonds Initiative reported recently. Previously, that benchmark wasn’t reached until November for 2017 and mid-September last year.

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