Région Ile-de-France is the first European Sub-Sovereign to issue an ESG benchmark bond with a negative yield on the financial markets

In order to fund its annual investment programme, in particular its regional recovery plan (€6.8bn between 2020 and 2022), Région Ile-de-France issued a new €500mn public bond on 12 April 2021.

Région Ile-de-France becomes the first European Sub-Sovereign issuer to print an ESG benchmark bond with a negative yield (-0.12%).

Investors demonstrated a massive support for this transaction, despite a negative yield, highlighting their confidence into the Région Ile-de-France’s credit. Indeed, the issuance attracted up to €3.5bn of interests, i.e. 7 times the amount announced, with a total of 114 orders. As a reminder, the previous record for the Région was €1.3bn in 2018 (in comparison, the raised amount was also €500mn). This record is now exceeded by +€2.2bn.

The Région keeps on diversifying its investor base with 16 jurisdictions participating in this new transaction. France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland accounted for more than 60 % of the interests. The bonds were allocated to buy and hold investors committed to sustainable financing.

This strong success confirms the Région Ile-de-France’s position as a European leader in sustainable financing. Since 2019, the Région is committed to issuing 100% of its funding programme in sustainable format, representing 80 % of its outstanding debt versus 35 % in 2015.

This is the first transaction of the Région issued under its updated framework for Green, Social and Sustainable bond issuance, aligning with the European taxonomy. In its Second Party Opinion, Vigeo ranked the use of proceeds, the selection and evaluation process, as well as the management of funds as “best market practices”.

Région Ile-de-France is also the first European Sub-Sovereign issuer to have engaged in the alignment of its framework to the upcoming European standards, contributing to the success of the transaction.

Despite the Covid-19 related economic crisis, the Région’s financial ratios will stay on a more favorable track in 2021 compared to 2015. The current margin rate would stand at 32.1% in 2021 (vs. 20.5% in 2015). The self-financing capacity doubled compared to 2015.

At the end of 2021, the outstanding debt will be in line with the 2015 level. As a reminder, between 2004 and 2015, it increased by an average annual rate of + 10 %. At the end of 2021, the debt payback ratio should amount to c. 4.5 years, way below its late 2015 level (7.5 years).

Thanks to a tight operational expenditure control since 2016 (- €2bn in multi annual expenditures), the Région Ile-de-France was able to face the Covid-19 crisis with a solid financial position.

The Région has received the best rating possible at this time in France, in line with the Republic of France (Fitch “AA” and Moody’s “Aa2”). Fitch affirmed its rating on Friday 9 April, highlighting that: “Ile-de-France has tight control of expenditure, as reflected by a continuous decline in operating expenditure in the last years” […] “Ile-de-France’s liabilities carry little risk” […] “[its] debt payback ratio remained sound in 2020” […] “despite the impact of the pandemic” […] “In 2020, net adjusted debt declined for the third year in a row”

In March 2021, Région Ile-de-France received the Capital Finance International – CFI.co – « Best sustainability bond issuer – France » award.