Picture: REUTERS/JACKY NAEGELEN
Picture: REUTERS/JACKY NAEGELEN

New York — PepsiCo has joined the charge to make green bonds more mainstream as the soft-drink giant priced its debut sale of the debt.

The company has offered $1bn of senior unsecured green securities, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

The 30-year bonds will yield 92 basis points above treasuries, after initially discussing 110 basis points, said the person, who asked not to be identified as the details are private. That is the larger end of its targeted range, and at the lower end of price talk, the person said.

Pepsi plans to invest the proceeds in sustainable development goals as defined by the UN, including eco-friendly plastics and packaging and cleaner transportation, according to a filing on Monday.

The packaged food and beverage company already has about $34bn of debt outstanding, but this is its first green bond.

The company’s existing 30-year bonds due in 2049 trade about 94 basis points wider than similarly dated treasuries, according to Trace bond price data.

CreditSights analysts James Dunn and Ben Morgan said earlier on Monday that the new notes would probably price closer to those outstanding, especially given the green attributes of the bonds.

‘Easy bond’

Also working in Pepsi’s favour is that it is a well-known, highly rated issuer that is in the market often and people understand, said Tony Trzcinka, a portfolio manager at Impax Asset Management, which specialises in sustainable finance.

“It’s important on the corporate side for most investors that these are benchmark-type issues with seasoned issuers that are investment-grade quality,” Trzcinka said. “It’s something that fits right in, so it’s a very easy bond to buy.”

Investors had placed orders worth as much as $3.65bn, according to another person with knowledge of the matter. Pepsi had been aiming to sell $750m-$1bn of the bonds, the person said.

Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs Group and Mizuho Financial Group managed the deal, with Morgan Stanley serving as green structuring adviser, according to a bond prospectus.

Proceeds from the deal are also marked for tree planting and for projects that will improve Pepsi’s operational water-use efficiency, according to a statement on Monday. The company said it has named Simon Lowden as its first chief sustainability officer, who had been global foods president.

Gaining popularity

Green bonds are a small fraction of the $5.8-trillion US investment-grade corporate bond market, but are increasing in popularity as companies develop initiatives to combat climate change. More than $120bn worth of green bonds were issued in the first half of 2019, up from $85bn in the last six months of 2018, according to BloombergNEF.

Pepsi’s rival Coca-Cola earlier in 2019 amended a loan issued in June 2015 to include a sustainability element, and both companies have pledged to use more recycled plastic in their bottles over the next decade.

Sustainable debt tools such as green bonds are a potential way for beverage companies to fund transition activities towards a more environmentally and socially sustainable future, said Daniel Shurey, head of green finance at BloombergNEF.

“A key example would be using a green bond to finance the improvement of water and wastewater management, which is a material environmental factor for beverage companies,” Shurey said.

Bloomberg