APPLE (Nasdaq: AAPL) rides the climate change wave and launches its first ‘green bond’
Technology giant Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) has launched a $12 billion bond sale, and for the first time, $1.5billion of it is ‘green’ labelled, meaning it will go towards the company developing renewable energy and other climate-friendly initiatives.
The U.S. technology giant said independent auditors would verify their climate credentials. Apple’s move highlights measures by publicly listed businesses to ensure they are seen as having ‘sustainability’ credentials to woo future customers in a fast-changing world, particularly after the COP 21 talks in Paris at the end of last year.
Apple’s prospectus says its green bond follows the voluntary guidelines set by the Climate Bonds Initiative, and that it plans to use the money in a variety of ways to reduce its impact on climate change. Establishing publicly visible energy efficiency in its facilities, products and supply chain is becoming very important to the business - as it becomes clear it is important to investors.
"This will allow investors to show they will put their money where their hearts and concerns are," Lisa Jackson, Apple's vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives, told Reuters. Apple is the first big technology corporate to venture into green bonds.
Earlier this month, Moody's Investor Services said it expects to see the issuance of green bonds rise to over $50 billion this year, following a record $42.4 billion issuance in 2015 due to the global climate agreement reached at COP 21 in Paris last year.
The triple A-rated World Bank (also known as the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development or IBRD) which launched its first equity index-linked Green Growth Bond for retail investors in Belgium in January 2015, for a total of $91 million, then diversified the program to reach other investors in Europe.
IBRD’s recently issued two more Green Growth Bonds, bringing the total issued in this format to over $555 million through 16 transactions – approximately $389 million from international retail and high net worth investors and approximately $167 million through institutional private placements with European insurance companies, pension funds and private banks.
Whatever the source of issuance, clearly there is a growing appetite for green bonds – and corporates are likely to be watching Apple with interest. “Some of our clients are beginning to ask questions about green bonds and whether you can populate a full portfolio with them," a portfolio manager was quoted as telling CNBC recently.
Apple’s company reports suggest it aims to build a new campus facility in Cupertino in California that is highly energy efficient and entirely powered by renewable energy.
Meanwhile, the issuance of the first-ever green bond by New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, coupled as it has been with an advertising campaign aimed at the general public, suggests that Apple’s view of investors wanting their money to follow their “hearts and concerns”, is gaining traction.
Dina Medland is an independent writer, editor and commentator with a strong focus on issues around corporate governance, ethics, the workings of the boardroom and sustainable business. She is on the team of contributors to @ForbesEurope and is an ex-Financial Times staff member who has been a regular contributor in recent years. Further details about her background and a portfolio of work – including her commercially sponsored blog ‘Board Talk’ are available on her website http://www.dinamedland.com