Successful third issuance of EU SURE bonds by the European Commission

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


The European Commission has issued a €8.5 billion social bond under the EU SURE instrument to help protect jobs and keep people in work. This has been the third bond issuance this year under the programme. It consisted of a single tranche due for repayment in November 2035. There was very strong investor interest in this highly rated instrument, and the bond was over 13 times oversubscribed. This was translated into favourable pricing terms which means that Member States will receive more in loans than they will have to repay.

Commissioner Johannes Hahn in charge of Budget and Administration said: “This is the third time the Commission has gone to the markets to borrow under SURE and the third time we have received a strong vote of confidence and support by investors. I am confident that we will continue in the same spirit in 2021, both under SURE and under NextGenerationEU, borrowing the funds and reusing it for a better Europe.”

The 15-year social bond was extremely well received by the capital markets, having attracted the largest-ever order book for any single tranche benchmark issuance, and turning into the largest 15-year deal size by a supranational issuer to date. The deal’s success is a testament to the wide-spread support from the international investor community for the EU’s SURE programme.

The bond was priced at a negative yield of -0.102 %. This means that for every €102 that Member States get, they pay back €100. This negative interest rate advantage is therefore passed on straight to the Member States receiving the loans in the form of back-to-back lending. (See here for more details on the pricing of the transaction).

The banks that supported the European Commission with this transaction (“joint bookrunners”) were Citigroup, HSBC, J.P. Morgan, LBBW and Société Générale.

Following disbursements of the proceeds of this bond, 15 EU Member States will have received €40 billion from three transactions in the period from late-October to end-November.

The Commission will proceed with further issuances under the EU SURE programme in 2021, up to the maximum available ceiling of €100 billion.

In 2021, the Commission is due to also launch the borrowing under NextGenerationEU, the temporary recovery instrument of €750 billion to help build a greener, more digital and more resilient Europe.

Background

The Commission has so far proposed to make €90.3 billion in financial support available to 18 Member States. So far, the Commission has disbursed a total of €31 billion to 10 EU Member States following two EU SURE issuances: Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Spain.

On 20 October, the European Commission issued its inaugural social bond under the EU SURE instrument. The issuing consisted of two bonds, with €10 billion due for repayment in October 2030 and €7 billion due for repayment in 2040, both of which were more than 13 times oversubscribed, resulting in favourable pricing terms.

On 10 November, the European Commission issued social bonds for the second time under the EU SURE instrument, for a total value of €14 billion. The issuing consisted of two bonds, with €8 billion due for repayment in November 2025 and €6 billion due for repayment in November 2050. The issuance has received an overwhelming response in the capital markets and the bonds were 13 and 11.5 times oversubscribed, respectively for the 5- and 30-year tranche, again entailing very favourable pricing terms.

The bonds issued by the EU under SURE benefit from a social bond label. This provides investors with confidence that the funds mobilised will serve a truly social objective.

The funds raised are being transferred to the beneficiary Member States in the form of loans to help them cover the costs directly related to the financing of national short-time work schemes and similar measures as a response to the pandemic.

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