Press Release

100% Success Rate as Wells Fargo and Morgan Stanley are the First to Use Kestrel Verifiers’ Sustainability and Green Bond Labeling on Two Series of the City of Berkeley Bonds

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: New York, NY; April, 3, 2020 – Kestrel Verifiers launched a new service this week giving underwriters the ability to create more ‘Green Bond’ supply for their buy-side investors by adding accredited verifier labeled “Green Bonds,” “Social Bonds” and “Sustainability Bonds” designations to US Municipal Bond transactions on the day of sale in the competitive market. The market’s response was overwhelmingly positive, and both deals that Kestrel qualified used the verifiers’ labels on the first day.

Kestrel Verifiers pre-qualifies deals on the competitive calendar to ensure that they meet the four pillars of the International Capital Market Association’s (ICMA) Green Bond Principles, Social Bond Principles or the Sustainability Bonds Guidelines. Underwriters receive a list of pre-qualified deals via email and can decide to add the label on the day of sale. After the sale, Kestrel will supply all necessary closing documentation, logos and language for the final Official Statement along with their “Second Party Opinion” report which will describes in detail how the deal met the Principles or Guidelines. It is important to note, that adding these labels does not require issuers to do any additional reporting beyond their normal continuing disclosures.

Kestrel prequalified the $38,000,000 City of Berkeley, CA – 2020 General Obligation Bonds (2018 Election Measure O: Affordable Housing) (Federally Taxable) as Sustainability Bond Guidelines. This week, Wells Fargo elected to use the Sustainability label and won the deal. Sustainability Bonds are green bonds that have an additional social benefit. In this case, the bonds are being used to finance affordable housing and will be built to LEED or GreenPoint building standards, in addition to meeting California’s robust Title 24 energy-efficient building codes.

“Demand for verified green, social and sustainability bonds is increasing across the board,” said Walker McQuage, Lead Underwriter for the Municipal Products Group at Wells Fargo Securities. “As the sector matures, increased transparency and metrics will give the market greater confidence. We are also proud to support the only woman owned verifier firm in this business. We sold approximately one third of this transaction into interest from an ESG/impact fund.”

Morgan Stanley purchased the $7,790,000 City of Berkeley, California 2020 Refunding General Obligation Bonds, Series A (2008 Election Measure FF: Neighborhood Branch Library Improvement Project), which Kestrel prequalified as Green Bonds. The library projects have successfully attained multiple green building certifications (such as LEED Silver, Gold and Platinum certifications), as well as certification as a Zero Net Energy building.

“We looked at the potential to differentiate the City’s bond offering by incorporating the Green designation in an unsettled market,” said Daniel Kelly, Executive Director at Morgan Stanley. “By selecting the option provided by Kestrel, we were able to tap an investor base looking for socially responsible investments. We were pleased with the reception that the bond offering received from both the Institutional community as well as with retail investors as a result of the Green designation.”

The City of Berkeley strives to set strong policy and push social equity issues through creative programs such as the 2018 Measure O general obligation bond authorization supporting affordable housing. In addition, the City has required any public facility to be built to the highest sustainable and environmental standards. Working with NHA Advisors as its municipal advisor, Berkeley created in 2008 the first in the nation green financing programs now known as PACE to promote the implementation of renewable energy on residential properties in the City.

Craig Hill, Managing Principal of NHA Advisors, LLC said, “Berkeley continues to lead by example and the utilization of the Kestrel Verifies Sustainability and Green Bond labeling for the City’s bonds will further the City’s objective of attracting impact investors to their bond offerings”

Dana Villanova, COO of Kestrel Verifiers said, “Our underwriting colleagues have been encouraging us to launch this new service so that they could participate in creating more Green supply, but I think even we were surprised that on day one we had a 100% success rate. We wish to personally thank NHA Advisors and the City of Berkeley for agreeing to allow the Green Label, and Wells Fargo and Morgan Stanley for selecting us on the day of sale.”

Monica Reid, CEO of Kestrel said, “We believe that the reputation of the Green Bonds market will be enhanced by adhering to internationally established standards (ICMA and The Climate Bonds Initiative). We see that as the Green Bonds market is maturing, verifier-labeled deals are being distinguished from issuer self-labeled deals. We believe that including our high-quality Second Party Opinion in deal documentation can help investors have confidence in the environmental and social benefits.”

For more information or to be added to Kestrel’s Pre-Qualification email list please email newdeal@kestrel-inc.com.

ABOUT KESTREL VERIFIERS

For 20 years Kestrel has been a trusted consultant in environmental finance. Kestrel Verifiers, a division of Kestrel 360, Inc. is an Approved Verifier by the Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI) and is qualified to verify transactions in all asset classes worldwide. Kestrel’s project experience spans many sectors including water and wastewater, green infrastructure, waste to energy, low carbon buildings, renewable energy, pollution prevention, climate change adaptation, natural resources, and land uses. Monica Reid, CEO of Kestrel serves on California Treasurer Fiona Ma’s California Green Bond Market Development Committee.

Kestrel is one of 40 Approved Verifiers per the Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI)