SRI investors snap up innovative €500m Air Liquide bond that is verified by Vigeo

Gas producer the first private company to issue SRI bonds

French industrial gases group Air Liquide says socially responsible investors have bought into its innovative €500m SRI bond.

After public and supra-national issuers, the Paris-based company is believed to be the first private company to issue bonds meeting SRI criteria.

“The issue was mostly placed with SRI mandated investors,” the company said. Proceeds will contribute to the refinancing of its recent home healthcare acquisitions Gasmedi and LVL Médical.
The bond – which matures in 2021 and has a coupon, or interest rate, of 2.125% p.a. – was verified by French environmental, social and governance (ESG) house Vigeo. The issue was managed by Credit Agricole.
“The success of this bond issue demonstrates the high level of confidence of European investors in Air Liquide’ssolid financial position,” the company said. The company is rated “A” with positive outlook by ratings agency Standard & Poor’s.

Air Liquide is listed on the Paris Euronext and is a member of the CAC 40 blue-chip index with 2011 revenues of €14.5bn.
The company was founded in 1902 and its shareholder base is 42% non-French institutional shareholders, 21% domestic institutions and 37% individuals.

A feature of its shareholder structure is that it awards a loyalty bonus to investors who hold its shares for more than two full calendar years. Under the scheme, dividends and free shares are increased by 10%.

Last month it opened a research and development laboratory for the solar industry. Link