Rewarding businesses for doing right thing

We’re supporting Wesfarmers to achieve their broader sustainability goals through innovative financing.

Commonwealth Bank and Wesfarmers have signed a $400 million three-year bilateral sustainability-linked loan, the first in Australia to be linked to achieving better social outcomes and the largest to be offered by a single lender. The new sustainability-linked loan transforms an existing Wesfarmers facility by incentivising better social outcomes, through a commitment to increase Indigenous employment opportunities, and enhanced environmental outcomes, through reduced carbon emission intensity.

CBA’s Group Executive for Institutional Banking & Markets, Andrew Hinchliff, says the social and environmental impacts of doing business have never been more important to customers, investors, regulators and the community.

“Environmental, social and governance considerations are very much a top priority for many Australian businesses today, with sustainability really being thought of as a core part of investing for growth. At the heart of it, sustainable finance incentivises improved organisational behaviours that build a better Australia and lead to more sustainable outcomes. It’s been great to collaborate so closely with Wesfarmers over the last several months and superb to see them leading from both an environmental and social point of view,” Mr Hinchliff said.

Chief Financial Officer at Wesfarmers, Anthony Gianotti said: “We were pleased to work with CBA on an innovative facility which recognises the value of investing in sustainability and reflects Wesfarmers’ longstanding core objective of delivering satisfactory returns to shareholders over the long term. We see commitment to ESG performance and sustainability as absolutely aligned with our core objective. It goes to the heart of delivering long-term sustainable value creation and it’s clear our investors, institutional and retail, see it the same way, as do the debt capital markets,” he said

Better sustainable and financial outcomes

Sustainability-linked loans tie a borrower’s cost of funding to their ESG (environmental, social and governance) performance. By meeting ambitious social and environmental targets linked to Indigenous employment and reduced carbon emissions intensity, Wesfarmers will receive a margin discount on their loan. Conversely, material underperformance would trigger an increase in pricing.

Wesfarmers Executive General Manager Corporate Affairs, Naomi Flutter said: “For this facility, we have targets in two areas which have long been a focus for us – reducing the emissions intensity of our hard-to-abate chemicals business and achieving proportional representation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in our Australian work force. Very importantly, these align strongly with our focus on our teams members, local communities and the environment.”

“We’re seeing a massive shift in the importance being placed on ESG, with business performance now intrinsically linked to the approach to sustainability. Investors are telling us that sustainable businesses are going to be better run businesses as they focus on the long-term and also on all of their stakeholders,” Mr Hinchliff said.

“We think that sustainable finance has tremendous potential to combine environmental and social impact with responsible capital allocation for corporate Australia, linking organisations’ cost of capital with the increasing community expectations and growing focus on a business’s environmental and societal impacts,” Mr Hinchliff added.

The new Wesfarmers loan follows a $75 million sustainability-linked loan to Queensland Airports Limited to directly reduce carbon emissions that was announced last year.

“Commonwealth Bank is committed to playing our part in driving sustainable outcomes and this includes supporting our customers’ efforts to do the same. It also makes good business sense to finance sustainable businesses for our lending portfolio and ensure a strong alignment of interests,” Mr Hinchliff said.

CBA’s commitment to sustainability

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