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Sebi to clear framework on green bonds

According to reports, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) is set to unveil rules on monitoring the end-use of green bonds and may propose incentives for companies to issue them at its board meeting on Monday.

“Sebi is working on regulations that will incentivise companies to launch green bonds. We would like these bonds to be listed on the domestic exchanges instead of on overseas exchanges,” said a source privy to the development.

“Regulations by Sebi are likely to be followed by regulations by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) so that they can offer competitive rates,” said another person familiar with the matter. Neither source wished to be named because no official statement had been made yet.

  An e-mail to Sebi spokesperson remained unanswered.

The move will enable Indian companies to raise capital at home through this popular instrument. It will also be a major step towards the government’s commitment on reducing India’s carbon footprint.

Green bonds invest in environment-friendly projects in areas like renewable energy, waste management, clean transportation, sustainable water management and climate change adaptation.

Lack of regulation has forced a majority of Indian players to tap the overseas market for green bonds.

Earlier this year, lenders, including YES Bank and Export Import (Exim) Bank did green bond issuances in the overseas market. IDBI Bank announced on Thursday that it has raised  ~2,310 crore via green bonds in Singapore.

Companies such as ReNew Power, Hindustan Power Project had to launch these bonds by tying up with financial institutions instead of launching them on their own due to lack of regulations and special dispensation for these bonds.

The clean energy arm of Hindustan Power Project entered the credit-enhanced bond market with an issue fully underwritten by YES Bank. ReNew Power Ventures was the first Indian company to issue credit-enhanced green bonds, raising $68 million, which were backed by Goldman Sachs.

“Lenders find it feasible to list on overseas exchanges because there are classes of investors there that invest in these bonds,” said Ajay Manglunia, head of fixed income, Edelweiss Securities.

There are no incentives associated with these bonds for Indian issuers or investors, apart from being infrastructure bonds that do not attract statutory banking reserve requirements.

Experts are viewing this as a first step towards the government’s aim of 175 gigawatt of renewable energy in the country by 2022.  According to an HSBC report, this ambition may be too steep. To reach a new climate agreement at the Paris COP21, India would need to invest at least $2.5 trillion by 2030, The Financial Times recently reported.

“These investment requirements can be fulfilled by offering incentives on green bonds to both foreign and domestic investors,” said an industry expert.

“Green bonds raised approximately $12.9 billion during the second quarter of 2015, bringing year-to-date totals to roughly $19.2 billion. Based on first-half 2015 issuance volumes, and considering second-quarter issuance momentum as well as expectations of continued offerings in China and India, green bond volumes for 2015 are highly likely to exceed — and could even double — last year’s record volume of almost $37 billion,” said a Moody’s report in August.

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