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Keeping you in-the-know on environmental, social and governance developments

Continuing with the HerbertSmithFreehills report on UK corporate finance 2024 I wrote about yesterday … The graphic below provides a few explanations about why UK corporate treasuries haven’t maintained their previous appetite for sustainable finance or sustainability-linked loans (SLLs):

Source: HerbertSmithFreehills and The Association of Corporate Treasurers, Corporate Debt and Treasury Report 2024.

The report indicates that returns don’t justify the efforts:

  • “The complexity of SLL and sustainable finance contractual provisions has also added cost and delay into financing processes at a point in the economic cycle where there is the most acute focus on both. For some respondents the desire to pursue sustainable finance was muted by these factors and a desire to wait until the market had settled on terms before reconsidering sustainable finance.
  • In addition, the cost and administrative burden of updating the targets through the life of the loan as the business evolves may well not be sufficiently compensated either by the loan being labelled as ‘sustainability-linked’ or by the small pricing differential.”

Here is perhaps the hardest-hitting point:

“There is evidence that some early-adopter corporates who included specific sustainability features in their last round of loan financings in 2020/2021 feel that that specific sustainability-linked loans are no longer necessary. Some have removed specific sustainability-linked loan provisions from their revolving credit facilities when they recently refinanced.”

While that doesn’t seem optimistic, this quote from a survey participant puts a pragmatic and positive light on the overall context of corporate sustainability:

“The sustainability agenda is embedded in what the business is doing, which is a much more compelling argument to judge whether the company is following a sustainable business strategy than looking to an SLL.”

Our members can find more information about sustainability linked loans here.

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The Editor

Lawrence Heim has been practicing in the field of ESG management for almost 40 years. He began his career as a legal assistant in the Environmental Practice of Vinson & Elkins working for a partner who is nationally recognized and an adjunct professor of environmental law at the University of Texas Law School. He moved into technical environmental consulting with ENSR Consulting & Engineering at the height of environmental regulatory development, working across a range of disciplines. He was one… View Profile