NatWest issues social bond linked to women-led enterprises

The relationship bank deepens its commitment to supporting female entrepreneurs

Diversity, equity and inclusion champions NatWest Group has issued its third social bond -the first of its kind from a European financial institution.

The €500m issuance proceeds will be used to refinance existing and finance new loans to women-led enterprises.

To support the transaction, the bank will create a dedicated pool of loans to women-led sole traders and SMEs utilising information derived from its records or sourced from Companies House.

This transaction follows two other social bonds that NatWest issued under its Green, Social and Sustainability Bond Framework. In November 2019, it launched the inaugural social bond linked to existing lending to SMEs and designed to support job creation in UK areas of high unemployment. This was followed by a €1bn affordable housing social bond issued in February 2021.

NatWest Group Chief Executive Alison Rose said: “As the first European financial institution to create a social bond specifically designed to lend to women-led businesses, today’s issuance reinforces our unwavering commitment to increasing the number of new female-led businesses in this country.

“We know that female entrepreneurs represent a significant economic potential for the UK, with a £250bn opportunity if women matched men in starting and scaling businesses. This new social bond is a crucial step to achieving just that, and we will continue to play our part, and work with our partners, to remove the barriers faced by women wanting to start, scale and finance new businesses.”

The issuance raised €500m from an orderbook at its peak of more than €1.75bn, with a 5NC4 maturity structure in Senior Unsecured format and a spread of MS+120bps.

NatWest Markets acted as GSS Structuring Advisor and joint lead bookrunner. Additional bookrunners on the transaction were ING, Natixis and Unicredit.

NatWest has also established a target that 25% of NatWest Group’s senior debt issuance this year will be in Green or Social Bond format.

You can learn more about the Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship here.

Information on NatWest’s Environmental, Social and Governance Disclosures can be found here.

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