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Credit Suisse finances debt conversion for marine conservation in Barbados
Credit Suisse acted as Global Lead Arranger on the total USD 146.5 mn dual currency term loan facility, also known as the blue loan, to Barbados, which completed on September 20, 2022. It also acted as sole structurer and arranger of the blue bonds issued to finance USD 73.25 mn of the blue loan. CIBC FirstCaribbean was the Domestic Lead Arranger of the blue loan. The blue loan was used to buyback certain Barbadian debt, including a portion of its USD bonds due in 2029; Credit Suisse acted as Structuring Advisor on the tender offer and was a Joint Dealer Manager alongside CIBC Capital Markets. Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) are acting as co-guarantors of the loan.
Barbados will direct the fiscal savings from the debt conversion, realized through lower debt service payments, to the Barbados Environmental Sustainability Fund (BESF) via a Conservation Funding Agreement. The BESF, which is expected to receive approximately USD 50 mn over the next 15 years, will fund marine conservation and other environmental and sustainable development projects in Barbados, that will serve as a key component of the development of the nation's blue economy. The BESF is currently managed by a board of directors that includes representatives from the Government of Barbados, TNC as well as civil society and the private sector. Alongside the funding, Barbados will commit to a number of conservation commitments, including to protect and sustainably manage up to 30% of its Exclusive Economic Zone and Territorial Sea – an area of more than 55,000 square kilometers.
A portion of the blue loan to Barbados was funded through the issuance of USD 73.25 mn blue bonds arranged by Credit Suisse and the remaining USD 73.25 mn of the blue loan was financed by CIBC FirstCaribbean in Barbados Dollars. IDB and TNC's role as co-guarantors is crucial as it strengthens the credit risk of the loan and enables the savings that will be directed into the BESF. A unique component of this loan is that it incorporates a new development in debt sustainability by building upon the framework that Barbados has championed and pioneered relating to managing payments in the instance of natural disasters by adding an option to temporarily suspend debt servicing in case of a future pandemic.
This transaction showcases an innovative model of how to raise conservation funding that promotes sustainable development, environmental management and helps achieve the national development priorities, including the sustainable development and growth of Barbados' blue economy.
Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, said: "The timing of this successful launch, when global financing conditions are stressed, is a testament to this new instrument's robustness and attractiveness. It generates USD 50 mn of additional resources for marine conservation - one of the largest amounts in a debt conversion for nature transaction. As an Ocean State experiencing the global climate crisis, the investments in coral restoration and other marine protection projects that this operation enables are vital. And this is one of the very first, if not the first, sovereign debt instrument to have a pandemic clause. We believe current global uncertainties demand instruments like these that are better at absorbing future shocks."
Ramzi Issa, Global Head of Credit Investor Products Structuring at Credit Suisse, said: "A crucial component of bringing this deal to life was collaboration. We are delighted to be continuing our work with TNC as well as to have worked closely with the Government of Barbados, IDB as well as CIBC FirstCaribbean to ensure we bring financial innovation in capital markets and Credit Suisse's leading expertise to the table to deliver on this unique debt conversion. We are proud to have been a part of this landmark transaction and to continue to contribute to the development of this new approach to blended conservation finance."
Emma Crystal, Chief Sustainability Officer at Credit Suisse, added: "Partnering with Barbados to support marine conservation and achieve an improved long-term debt position, highlights the cumulative real-world value of sustainable finance solutions. Our continued work with TNC, through this second transaction under their Blue Bonds for Ocean Conservation program, demonstrates the impact of Credit Suisse's innovative financial expertise as a means to help preserve the natural capital of our oceans."
Dr Sherry Constantine, Eastern Caribbean Program Director at TNC, said: "This is an innovative and progressive move for Barbados, as they work to secure their future financially and environmentally and create a sustainable blue economy. This deal is uniquely tailored to help them do that. A marine spatial plan will improve management and governance of Barbados' ocean space, which is a win for nature and for the country."
Mauricio Claver-Carone, IDB President said: "The IDB has been Barbados' long-standing partner for its ambitious climate and biodiversity agenda. Our catalytic role in this transaction demonstrates our commitment at the IDB to offer innovative financial instruments and technical advisory that increase the resilience of the region. With our expertise in international green financing, the IDB is ready to mobilize additional funds to increase resources for countries to enhance their ambition and we remain at their side to support their efforts."
This media release is not an offer of the blue bonds or any other security for sale in the United States or any other jurisdiction. The blue bonds have not been, and will not be, registered for sale under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and they may not be offered or sold in the United States absent an exemption from registration.