Banks are accelerating the launch of impact loans

Sent September 9, 2022, 5:28 pmUpdated September 9, 2022 at 5:42 pm

It is the new fashion product in banking networks. Caisse d’Epargne is in turn entering the market for impact loans for businesses, those loans whose interest rate can fluctuate if the borrower achieves pre-defined extra-financial objectives, in environmental, social or social matters. governance.

The Caisse de Bretagne Pays de Loire signed its first loan this week with the Gaïago company, for an amount of 1 million euros, repayable over five years. It will allow this Breton agritech, based in Saint-Malo, to continue financing its business, which aims to accelerate the agroecological transition.

Created in 2014, the company develops natural products that allow farmers to revitalize their land. Enough to improve farm yields while promoting water retention and carbon storage in the soil.

The group has just launched a program that allows farmers to measure the stored carbon stock and resell it in the form of carbon credits. The new loan will partly finance the development of this program.

An accelerating question

Caisse d’Epargne follows in the footsteps of its competitors. BNP Paribas, Société Générale, La Banque Postale, Crédit Agricole… All major establishments now have impact loans in their catalog. Initially confined to large companies, they have recently been offered to SMEs.

“The market is taking off, with demand accelerating since the end of 2020 and the health crisis”, assures Guénolé Quéau, development director of Arkéa Banque Entreprises et Institutionnels. The plant, which brings together the Crédit Mutuel de Bretagne et du Sud-Ouest, has so far granted 710 million euros in impact loans to around 135 companies and institutional clients, including the Biocoop stores and the Hospices Civils de Lyon.

In the current environment of rising interest rates, this type of product can attract a growing number of businesses. Gaïago can therefore hope to achieve a reduction of 15 basis points in the initial rate. The bonus will be transferred annually by the bank, subject to performance analysis. If the objectives are not met, the rate will remain unchanged. “There is no sanctioning measure, it is only positive”, explains Christophe Pinault, boss of the Caisse d’Epargne Bretagne Pays de Loire.

“The financial argument is important to the client, acknowledges Pascal Pouyet, director of development at Caisse d’Epargne. But it is also a way to support him in his approach to CSR, to establish a framework for the commitments he assumes ”.

A virtuous label

The granting of an impact loan can also act as a virtuous label for a company. “In the calls for tenders, clients increasingly ask for an overview of the environmental and social commitments of companies. The impact loan makes it possible to officially recognize the path taken ”, explains Benoite Armand-Pieyre, head of corporate customers of the Société Générale network, which has been offering these loans since the beginning of the year.

For the bank, this type of credit pays less than a conventional loan if bonuses are granted. But it can help win customers. “This is an important axis of differentiation, comments Guénolé Quéau. It is also a means of being consistent with commitments in terms of sustainable finance ”.

There are no precise rules on the indicators to follow. Each bank is free to set up their own. Energy consumption, waste management, carbon footprint or even the professional equality index between women and men are generally part of the monitored data.

Verified by third parties

At Gaïago, performance measurement will be based on the volume of stored carbon credits. “The granting of the subsidy will depend on the number of farmers able to store the equivalent of 3 tons of CO2 per hectare and per year “, explains Michel Funfschilling, its managing director.

The objectives to be achieved are set between the bank and the customer. The system and the relevance of the indicators used are verified by third parties such as Moody’s ESG Solutions (formerly Viageo) at Caisse d’Epargne and EthiFinance at Arkéa. The amount of the bonus is also contractually fixed.

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