EMEA remained the biggest global market for sustainable finance in 2022 despite the turbulence sparked by the war in Ukraine. For a faultless performance across the region’s ESG-labelled markets in a challenging year, Credit Agricole CIB is IFR’s EMEA ESG Financing House of the Year.
Credit Agricole CIB continues to exert an outsized influence in sustainable bonds and loans and provided the calm, thoughtful intellectual leadership that it is known for as the world was plunged into a crisis that accelerated the energy transition.
Experience helps to keep a cool head and CACIB took the number one spot in EMEA ESG-labelled bonds by 2022 volume. It was also the highest placed European bank in the global ESG bond bookrunner league tables, in third place behind JP Morgan and Bank of America.
The bank was also the second-largest top tier lender in EMEA green and sustainability-linked loans – behind rival BNP Paribas – but importantly topped the global sustainability and green structuring agent league tables for loans.
“We’re very happy because we’re back at the top of the market,” said Tanguy Claquin, global head of sustainability at CACIB.
Claquin was appointed global head of sustainability in December 2021 in a move that presaged wider organisational changes during 2022 that were designed to align CACIB’s sustainable finance with the bank’s own decarbonisation strategy.
The bank’s sustainable banking team has grown to 29 people in EMEA. It supports clients on ESG-labelled finance and climate transition and now includes sectoral experts. The result, it says, is more sophisticated and detailed transition conversations with clients.
“We’re not organised with just a geographic footprint, we also have a very strong technical footprint and I think this has been extremely efficient in terms of being in front of clients and being able to transmit the right recommendation,” Claquin said.
In March 2022, CACIB also created a new climate and sustainability strategy team that focuses on the energy transition and manages the bank’s decarbonisation strategy and commitments under the UN-convened Net-Zero Banking Alliance as well as CACIB’s own ESG-labelled portfolios and targets.
Claquin attributes CACIB’s renewed success to this reorganisation, particularly the creation of sector specialists and physically co-locating the two teams for a more consistent approach. A dedicated ESG advisory team was also created.
“We clearly walk the talk – what we are telling our clients that they should do is also what we are doing in our portfolio. It's about credibility and consistency,” Claquin said.
CACIB brought an impressive roster of cutting-edge deals across corporates, FIG and SSA in 2022 and continued to extend sustainable finance to new asset classes, such as green deposits, sustainability-linked securitisation, green guarantees and sustainability-linked swaps.
The bank is equally attentive to SMEs, midcaps and French local authorities and stresses the importance of a dedicated offering that encompasses innovative sustainability-linked management buyouts, microfinance and impact loans and project finance.
“We are here to serve all types of clients when it comes to sustainability. That’s the distinctive feature of our franchise,” said Laurent Adoult, head of sustainable banking for financial institutions and SSA Europe.
Standout deals include a joint bookrunner role on the first ever green inflation-linked benchmark bond – the €4bn issue for Agence France Tresor – which reinforced France’s position as one of the largest sovereign ESG bond issuers.
Other green sovereign deals included acting as sole structuring adviser on Switzerland’s inaugural transaction, which was done via auction, being ESG structuring adviser for Belgium, which included a framework update to align with the EU Taxonomy, and joint bookrunner roles for the European Union, Germany and Italy.
CACIB also structured several green bonds with frameworks aligned to the EU Taxonomy for utilities such as EDF and Hera Group and also helped to develop the sustainability-linked format for airlines and airports, including Aeroporti di Roma.
Other innovative corporate deals included converting Spanish real estate company Colonial Group’s outstanding bonds into a 100% green bond programme and adding biodiversity key performance indicators and a similar conversion for peer Merlin Properties. Food producer Bel Group’s Schuldschein also had a new KPI that gives a nutrition score for the quality of the group’s dairy products.
In the FIG space, CACIB bank helped Berlin Hyp to update its green bond framework and align with the EU Taxonomy by creating two different sets of criteria – one fully Taxonomy aligned and another that is green but not Taxonomy aligned – and also created a pathway that allows the bank to add only Taxonomy-aligned loans to its eligible portfolio by 2025.
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