Gender diversity bonds get South Africa debut

 ·13 Aug 2022

Barloworld, the South African car dealer and supplier of equipment to the mining industry, is marketing the nation’s first sale of debt linked to gender diversity targets.

The Johannesburg-based company is planning to raise as much as R1 billion ($61 million) in three-year and five-year bonds, with the rates linked to goals for women in its leadership structures, as well as the participation of businesses owned by black women in its supply chain.

Holders of Barloworld’s floating-rate notes maturing in December will have the option to switch into the new debt, said Kate Rushton, a Johannesburg-based credit analyst at Rand Merchant Bank, in a note to clients.

The sale, planned for Aug. 17 via an auction, comes amid a global drive to meet sustainability goals. The worldwide total of new debt linked to sustainability and social targets issued this year is already near the level for all of 2020, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

To date, issuance of so-called gender bonds have primarily been undertaken by development banks and corporations, with sovereign issuers yet to enter this corner of the market. The South African government has considered a sovereign gender bond, but its plans have yet to come to fruition.

In January, Colombia’s Mibanco Banco de la Microempresa SA issued $28.4 million of bonds linked to gender targets. Tanzania’s NMB Bank Plc has sold shilling-denominated bonds to raise money to extend affordable loans for women-owned or women-controlled enterprises.

The Asian Development Bank, Banco Pichincha in Ecuador, Singapore-based Impact Investment Exchange and the International Finance Corporation have also issued gender bonds this year.

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