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    United States : Georgia Power issues landmark Equality Progress Sustainability Bond


    May 17, 2022 - Al Bawaba Business

     

      Georgia Power Company ("Georgia Power"), the largest electric subsidiary of The Southern Company ("Southern Company"), announced today it issued $1.5 billion in senior unsecured bonds on May 4, 2022 to make investments that will help deliver clean, safe, reliable, and affordable energy to its customers, while also boosting local communities and driving economic inclusion. $800 million of this bond offering consisted of the first-ever Equality Progress Sustainability Bonds ("EPSBs") issued by a corporate borrower. EPSBs are designed to advance racial equality, economic opportunity, and environmental sustainability, with an amount equal to at least 50% of the net proceeds being allocated to social spend aimed to primarily benefit minority- and/or female-owned suppliers. Equality Progress Sustainability-labeled notes were first introduced by Bank of America in 2020; BofA Securities, Inc. also served as Georgia Power's Sustainability Structuring Agent.

      Georgia Power serves 2.7 million customers across the state, with regular investments and improvements designed to protect the environment, increase reliability and deliver the power needed for Georgia's future growth all of which is supported by a broad and diverse supplier base. Georgia Power is also committed to deploying resources to advance inclusivity, equity and social justice, and has a company-wide goal to increase its percentage of spend with diverse suppliers and minority-suppliers to 30% and 20% of overall spend by 2030. The targeted social benefits of this landmark EPSB align with Southern Company's "Moving to Equity" framework established in 2020, as well as Georgia Power's continued focus on advancing racial equity and social justice.

      "At Georgia Power, our commitment to helping further racial equity and social justice in the state of Georgia means we are constantly looking for new and different ways we can support these kinds of efforts, and this bond is a great example of how we're doing just that," said Aaron Abramovitz, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Georgia Power. "We're pleased investors and the marketplace value how important the issuance of this kind of bond is and recognize how impactful this can be for minority- and female-owned businesses. Being the first corporate issuer to issue this type of bond is something we are very proud of."

      "This inaugural corporate Equality Progress Sustainability transaction continues the leadership in ESG-bond issuances of the Southern Company system, which completed one of the first corporate issuances of an ESG-themed bond in 2015," said Andrew Karp, head of ESG Advisory & Financing Solutions at Bank of America. "We applaud Georgia Power for being the first corporate to align its bond issuance with the Equality Progress Sustainability Bond label and for using the capital markets to support and advance its sustainability goals. We hope interest in this theme continues to build in the market."

      This announcement reflects the leadership of Georgia Power's parent company, Southern Company, which, through its subsidiaries, is now the largest Utility Environmental, Social and Governance ("ESG")-bond issuer and the second-largest Corporate ESG-bond issuer. Southern Company subsidiaries have previously issued 11 ESG-labeled bonds, including 8 Green, 1 Social and 2 Sustainability.

      Further evidencing the company's commitment to supporting diversity and inclusion, Siebert Williams Shank & Co., LLC (a leading national women- and minority-owned investment banking firm) was included as a joint book-running manager. Additionally, BofA Securities, Inc., Mizuho Securities USA LLC, MUFG Securities Americas Inc., PNC Capital Markets LLC, Scotia Capital (USA) Inc. and Truist Securities, Inc. also served as joint book-running managers.

      This transaction was issued in alignment with Southern Company's Sustainable Financing Framework originally published in 2021.

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