Standard Bank says it has been appointed the new chair of the Equator Principles Association for 2015/16, making it the first African bank to be elected to this position.
According to the pan-African bank, the appointment, which takes effect on the 1st June 2015, comes at a critical juncture in the integration of environmental and social considerations within business as a component of responsible investing.
Standard Bank’s Executive & Head of Environmental and Social Advisory within Investment Banking, Nigel Beck, will be the bank’s lead representative and chair. Beck says that while the world is aware there is a need for change, there is not a meeting of the minds on how this is to be achieved.
The Equator Principles is a step in this direction requiring project financing, advisory and project related corporate loans to meet consistent international standards from an environmental and social perspective. This is partially the reason the major drivers of global environmental, social and climate change is coming from the 80 Equator Principles Financial Institutions in 35 countries who have officially adopted the Equator Principles. These Financial Institutions cover the majority of international project finance debt within developed and emerging markets.
Equator Principles (EP) III is already in force and became mandatory for all new transactions (where the mandate was signed after 31 December 2013) from 1 January 2014. Beck says Standard Bank will continue to focus on EP III implementation in conjunction with our clients across the continent. EP III extends the scope of the Principles beyond pure project finance and advisory, to project related corporate loans and bridge loans with the inclusion of additional focus on aspects such as greenhouse gas emissions at a project level.
The Equator Principles fit within Standard Bank’s strategy of funding environmentally and socially responsible business in South Africa and on the African continent, as well as partnering in the continent’s development. The Principles enhance transactions throughout the lifecycle, including advisory and arranging, resulting in better structured debt improved syndication and distribution. Standard Bank has been an active and engaged member of the Equator Principles Association since its adoption of the Equator Principles in 2009 and subsequent election to the Steering Committee in 2010. The Equator Principles Association is managed by an elected steering committee of 15 global banks, with Standard Bank the only African representative.
Standard Bank’s commitment to integrating environmental and social responsibility into its global business operations has been particularly evident in the past few years and its efforts have received significant external recognition. This includes being recognised by the Johannesburg Stock Exchange SRI as the only company to have been consistently in the best performer category in the past 8 years and ranked in the top twenty Greenest Banks globally by the Bloomberg Markets Magazine Greenest Bank rankings. Standard Bank was also awarded ‘Sustainable Bank of the Year 2013’ for the Africa/Middle East region in the FT/IFC Sustainable Finance Awards and achieved a position on the global “A list” of the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) Climate Performance Leadership Index.
“We look forward to working with all Equator Principles Financial Institutions to ensure we remain focused on lending responsibly, enhance business opportunities and supporting the way in which we conduct our business with our customers across emerging and established markets,” says Beck.