The trading division of China’s biggest food company obtained a $2.1 billion loan that links all of its main financing lines to environmental targets.
Cofco International Ltd.’s deal marks the first time a Chinese mainland company has embraced this new kind of financing agreement, known in the industry as a sustainability-linked loan. The deal offers lower interest rates in exchange for meeting targets such as tracing the origins of its soybeans to ensure they don’t contribute to deforestation in Brazil.
ING Group NV, Rabobank Group and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA are the sustainability coordinators of the Cofco International loan. ABN Amro Group NV is the coordinator.
Cofco International estimates savings of about $1 million a year by meeting its targets and plans to spend the money funding its own sustainability goals, such as reducing the use of fossil fuels.
The loan includes three tranches with one- and three-year tenors. It’s priced 80 basis points above the London Interbank Offered Rate on the one-year tranche and 90 basis points on the three-year tranche. The loan’s margin offers as much as 5 basis points of incentive or premium depending whether targets are met. A basis point is a hundredth of a percentage point.
Cofco’s deal ranks among the world’s biggest sustainability-linked loans and the largest in the commodity trading industry. It will replace existing revolving credit and term-loan facilities, making it the first time a commodities trader tied its core source of trade finance capital to green targets.