Saudi wealth fund PIF to issue green debt soon, says governor

Governor of the Saudi Public Investment Fund, Yasir Othman Al-Rumayyan speaks during the fourth annual Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, January 27, 2021. REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri/File Photo

DUBAI, Sept 22 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund plans to announce soon its first green debt deal, with borrowing linked to sustainability, the Public Investment Fund's governor told a virtual event.

"We will be the first sovereign wealth fund in the world to announce this green issuance," Governor Yasir al-Rumayyan told an event on Tuesday held alongside the United Nations General Assembly.

In July, Reuters reported that PIF had sent banks a request for proposals to set up a framework for environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. This month, PIF hired banks to be members of its ESG panel for its medium-term capital-raising strategy, IFR News reported. read more

Rumayyan said PIF was working with BlackRock (BLK.N) on the ESG framework.

"We're working with many partners from all over the world, domestically and internationally, to have better ESG compliance (in) all the things that we do," Rumayyan said.

Establishing PIF's ESG framework could lead to a debut multi-billion dollar bond sale linked to sustainability as soon as this year, banking sources previously told Reuters.

Saudi Arabia has seen a surge of interest in ESG-related initiatives amid growing awareness among global investors about ESG risks.

PIF signed a $15 billion loan with a large group of banks in March, followed a $10 billion loan it took in 2019 that was repaid last year and an $11 billion facility in 2018.

One of the companies PIF owns, the Red Sea Development Company, which is building a new beach resort in the kingdom, secured a $3.8 billion green loan earlier this year for new hotels powered by renewable energy.

Saudi Arabia will announce its "Green Initiative" next month, followed by the "Middle East Initiative", which includes planting 50 billion trees, Rumayyan said.

"We have long-term views. We don't want to exploit all of our resources overnight," he said.

Reporting by Yousef Saba; Editing by Edmund Blair

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