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Credit Suisse Offers Low Yield on Largest Blue-Bond Swap for Galapagos Protection
By Seaandcoast | 08/05/2023
Credit Suisse Group AG is spearheading the world's largest ocean-friendly debt swap in Ecuador, aimed at protecting the unique Galapagos Islands from ecological harm. The bond sale is designed to raise funds to purchase Ecuador's heavily discounted sovereign debt and use the savings to invest in protecting the fragile ecosystem of the Galapagos. Sources familiar with the matter have revealed that Credit Suisse is offering a yield of less than 6% on a new bond, which will be used to finance the purchase of Ecuador's sovereign debt, with the Swiss bank agreeing to buy $1.63bn of the debt from bondholders in a tender for up to $800m.
This move will help Ecuador reduce its debt-servicing costs, which the government can use to channel resources towards ecological conservation efforts, given that the new securities will benefit from multilateral guarantees and have the backing of Moody's Investors Service. The rating agency is expected to score the new securities at Aa2, which is 16 notches above the nation's foreign-issuer rating, making it one of the highest investment-grade scores.
Furthermore, the new Galapagos bonds will be issued by the GPS Blue Financing DAC, a special purpose vehicle, which will then lend the funds to the Ecuadorean government with insurance from the US International Development Finance Corporation. Additionally, the transaction benefits from an $85m guarantee from the Inter-American Development Bank, further bolstering investor confidence.
Credit Suisse has previously spearheaded similar debt-for-nature swaps, including a $364m deal with the charity Nature Conservancy for Belize in 2021 and a $150m deal for Barbados in 2022. While the deal is a major development for Ecuador, which previously had around $17.3bn outstanding of dollar bonds, it comes at a time when President Guillermo Lasso's impeachment attempt is on the rise.
The bond sale is expected to significantly reduce the burden of Ecuador's outstanding debt, given that the nation's debt due in 2040 yields about 16%, while the new bonds are expected to have a yield of less than 6%. The move has been welcomed by economists who see it as a positive step towards ecological conservation, with the hope that it will inspire other nations to follow suit in protecting their unique and fragile ecosystems.