Bond to list on SGX that funds loans to women-focused enterprises in developing countries

Impact Investment Exchange CEO Durreen Shahnaz still feels that more can be done to give under-served women a voice in the market. PHOTO: BUSINESS TIMES

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - Singapore-based capital firm Impact Investment Exchange (IIX) has priced its US$27.7 million (S$37 million), four-year Women's Livelihood Bond 3 (WLB3) at 3.95 per cent, a company spokesman told The Business Times on Tuesday (Dec 8).

The WLB3 is the third tranche under the US$150 million WLB Series, a series of debt securities meant to create sustainable livelihoods for more than three million women across developing countries, IIX said.

The latest issuance, which will be listed on the Singapore Exchange, is expected to close around Dec 10, the spokesman said. The unsubordinated, secured bonds will be issued at par and are expected to mature on Dec 10, 2024.

Investors include United States institutional investor Nuveen, Pathfinder NZ, Blue Orchard and Grace Harmony. IIX's Women's Catalyst Fund, a gender lens vehicle designed to "accelerate innovative financial instruments for women" also made its maiden investment, the company said.

According to IIX, WLB3 will support some 180,000 under-served women and women entrepreneurs in the Asia-Pacific region amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Proceeds will be used to extend loans to borrowers, all of which are women-focused enterprises or microfinance institutions benefiting women in Cambodia, India, Indonesia and the Philippines, as well as to make payments due to hedging counterparties, among other things.

The Australia and New Zealand Banking Group is the lead placement agent for the offering, while others include Standard Chartered Bank and DBS Bank.

In January this year, IIX announced the second issuance under the WLB series which comprised US$12 million of four-year bonds, carrying a coupon of 4 per cent per annum.

The company launched its maiden four-year US$8.5 million WLB bond in 2017, with a coupon rate of 5.65 per cent per annum.

Last month, BT reported that as sustainability-centred priorities grow in prominence on regulators' and investors' agendas, women, too, are increasingly muscling into the traditionally male-dominated fields like finance and real estate.

While there is little hard data on the matter, women have been headlining initiatives focusing on environmental, social and governance standards globally, and here in Asia.

Additionally, some like Ms Durreen Shahnaz, founder and chief executive officer of IIX, still feel that more can be done to give under-served women a voice in the market.

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