Sustainable finance holds up in face of pandemic

By James Langton | July 23, 2020 | Last updated on July 23, 2020
2 min read
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Sustainable finance continues to hold up relatively well in the face of the economic damage inflicted by the Covid-19 outbreak, according to new data from London-based Refinitiv.

In a new report, the firm produced its first set of industry league tables for sustainable finance (bringing together data on sustainable products and companies).

The report indicates that nearly US$200 billion worth of sustainable bonds was issued in the first half of 2020, with the bulk of that (US$130.9 billion worth) coming thanks to a second quarter surge in issuance activity.

“Social bond issuance accelerated during the second quarter, driven by an increase in capital raising by sovereigns, multilaterals and banks for Covid-19 relief and recovery efforts,” Refinitiv said in its report.

This represented the strongest quarter on record for sustainable bonds, although this data only goes back to 2015.

On the strength of the strong Q2, issuance was up by 47% in the first half, compared with the same period a year ago.

“Strong demand for responsible investment continued to drive green bond issuance, which totalled US$49.5 billion during the second quarter,” the report said, noting that this was the third highest quarterly total on record.

In the first half of the year, US$77.7 billion worth of green bonds were issued globally, down 13% from a year ago.

Alongside the bond market activity, the firm also reported that US$79 billion in sustainable loans closed during the first half and US$4 billion was raised by sustainable companies in the global equity markets.

Refinitiv reported that HSBC ranked first in underwriting sustainable bonds, followed by Barclays and JP Morgan. The top-ranked Canadian firm was TD Securities Inc. (TDSI) in 12th spot.

In the syndicated loan market. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group was the leading book runner in the first half of 2020, followed by Mizuho Financial Group and BNP Paribas SA. CIBC World Markets was the top Canadian firm, taking 13th place globally.

On the equity front, BofA Securities Inc. was the leading underwriter, JP Morgan took second place, and Wells Fargo was third. Scotiabank, TDSI and CIBC all tied for eighth place in the global rankings.

As for merger and acquisition activity, Refinitiv reported that there was US$14.1 billion worth of M&A involving sustainable companies in the first six months of the year.

Goldman Sachs was the top M&A advisor in the rankings. Nomura took second and Credit Suisse was in third place. Scotia and BMO Capital Markets tied with Morgan Stanley for fifth spot.

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James Langton

James is a senior reporter for and its sister publication, Investment Executive. He has been reporting on regulation, securities law, industry news and more since 1994.