A Canadian first: BMO and Concordia partner for a sustainable future with innovative sustainability-linked loan
Concordia has entered into a sustainability-linked financing deal with BMO Financial Group, who acted as the sustainability structuring agent. The amendment to an existing credit facility introduces a margin adjustment mechanism tied to the alignment of Concordia’s assets under management with sustainable and impact investments.
This sustainability-linked loan (SLL) marks the first one of its kind for a higher education institution in Canada and underpins Concordia’s commitment to advancing sustainability in its operations, management, research and curriculum.
“Concordia is a leader among universities in pursuing financing mechanisms that align with our institutional commitment to sustainability,” says Graham Carr, president and vice-chancellor.
“We were the first university in North America to issue a sustainable bond. And now I’m thrilled that we’re once again the first university in Canada to conclude a sustainability-linked loan (SLL) arrangement with BMO. In recognition of our Foundation’s work to deliver the sustainable investment portfolio it announced in 2019, the SLL is a preferred borrowing incentive that will translate to the overall benefit to the University’s cash budget and its cost of financing.”
The Foundation, which acts as Concordia’s primary investment arm, has been a leader in sustainable investment since 2014 when it created a sustainable investment fund, and became a signatory of the UN Principles for Responsible Investment (UN PRI) in 2018.
That same year, it implemented a new responsible investment policy which integrates environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) aspects into decision-making. It also includes an impact investment policy — which focuses on factors such as education, community development and affordable housing, among others. Its joint sustainable investment advisory committee — which includes student and faculty representatives — makes recommendations on socially and environmentally responsible investment opportunities.
In September 2019, Concordia signed a declaration, with nine other Quebec universities, committing to more sustainability education and research and carbon neutrality by 2050 at the latest. The university’s Climate Action Plan was revised just last year with the determination to reach that goal across all its operations by 2040.
“As sustainable lending continues to grow around the world, BMO is proud to be the leading Canadian bank for SLL structuring. BMO’s Climate Ambition is to be our clients’ lead partner in the transition to a net zero world. Helping clients like Concordia University reach their ESG goals is an important way BMO is Boldly Growing the Good in business and life, and a great example of the progress our clients across industries can make as we work together to build a more sustainable future,” says Jonathan Hackett, Head, Sustainable Finance, BMO Capital Markets.
Sustainability-linked loans (“SLL”) are a type of loan instrument that incentivizes borrowers to achieve meaningful, predetermined sustainability objectives. The goal of an SLL is to enhance a borrower’s sustainability objectives by linking the interest margins of credit facilities to material, impactful and credible sustainability performance targets.
Carbon neutral in its own operations since 2010, BMO announced its Climate Ambition in March 2021 with a commitment to deploy $300 billion in sustainable lending and underwriting to companies pursuing sustainable outcomes by 2025. BMO is focused on being its clients’ lead partner in their transition to a net zero world and, since December 2019, has completed green and sustainability-linked loans for companies in a range of sectors, with targets including sustainability, diversity, and health and safety.
To support clients' pursuit of opportunities driven by the increasing momentum of the global economy's shift in production and consumption of energy, in 2021 BMO established a dedicated Energy Transition Group and the BMO Climate Institute.
BMO's leadership on sustainability has been recognized on a number of rankings, including the Wall Street Journal's 100 Most Sustainably Managed Companies in the World, Corporate Knights’ Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations, Dow Jones Sustainability Indices World Index, and Ethisphere Institute's list of the World's Most Ethical Companies.
Find out more about Concordia’s Climate Action Plan.