South Korea’s state-run utility company Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) is seeking to issue green bonds worth $300 million dedicated to financing environmental projects.
The green bonds would be KEPCO’s first foreign currency denominated debts in four years if they are successfully issued. The utility firm that once was one of big investors in the global bond market had not issued any since it sold 200 million Swiss franc-denominated bonds in October 2013.
According to investment bank industry sources on Tuesday, KEPCO recently notified foreign brokerage firms in Korea its plan to issue dollar-denominated green bonds. The company plans to raise $300 million, which would be used entirely to finance green projects such as renewable energy development and environmental improvement.
Green bonds are debt instruments that their proceeds are used exclusively on environmental projects. The global demand for green bonds have been on a sharp rise as they carry similar interest rates as other foreign currency denominated bonds with relatively low management cost. They also help enhance corporate image because they allow their issuers to take part in projects addressing environmental issues.
The global green bond market has rapidly increased in recent years, jumping to $88.8 billion in 2016 from $12.6 billion in 2013, according to Korea Center for International Finance. For this year, the value hit $50.9 billion in the first six months despite a fall in yuan-denominated bonds due to subdued investor sentiment in China. Instead, the French government has issued massive euro-denominated bonds early this year.
In Korea, state-run Export-Import Bank of Korea (EXIM bank) issued the country’s first green bonds in February 2013, followed by Hyundai Capital Services Inc. and Korea Development Bank.
Governments of Asia’s major countries are seeking to establish guidelines to meet the growing demand for green bonds in the world and ways to support private institutions in issuing green bonds, said Song Hyun-woo, a researcher at Korea Center for International Finance. Investments through green bonds should be approached as taking social responsibility, said Song.
By Park Yun-gu
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