RESPONSIBLE INVESTING AND SUSTAINABLE GROWTH
Global trends show that investment companies and financial institutions have been transforming their investment strategies. Issuers’ commitment to the principles of sustainability is becoming an important factor in choosing recipients of investment. As a member of the Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) initiative, Moscow Exchange upholds the principles of responsible investment and creates opportunities to expand sustainable practices in Russia.
In cooperation with the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation, Moscow Exchange launched the Sustainability sector, a special sector for trading target-oriented securities.
Objectives of the Sustainability sector:
- help companies, public authorities, and other issuers raise funds for environmental and social projects;
- create an environment conducive to foreign investment in Russian bonds;
- offer a set of instruments for funding initiatives that meet the objectives of national projects and comply with Decree of the President of the Russian Federation No. 204 of 7 May 2018 “On National Goals and Strategic Objectives of the Development of the Russian Federation to the Year 2024”.
National and adaptation projects
Green bonds are debt securities, the proceeds of which are used to finance projects aimed at improving the environment. Such projects include renewable energy sources, environmentally friendly transport, energy efficiency improvement, reduction of GHG emissions, waste recycling, etc.
Social bonds are debt securities, the proceeds of which are used to finance social projects. Such projects include creating social infrastructure or developing social services, building affordable housing, developing small businesses, and other social objectives.
This segment features the securities of companies implementing projects that promote environmental and social sustainability.
Securities in this segment must be consistent with the objectives of national projects“Environmental Protection”, “Housing and Urban Environment”, “Comprehensive Plan of Modernization and Expansion of Key Infrastructure”, “Demographics”, “Healthcare”, “Education”, “Labor Productivity and Employment Support”, “Culture” or the federal project “Introduction of Best Available Technologies”. or be compliant with the taxonomy of climate adaptation projects.
Principles for including bonds in the Sustainability sector
The green bonds segment features bonds issued by Russian issuers whose bond issue(s), investment project(s), or issuer’s document(s) meet the internationally recognized Green Bonds Principles (GBP) of the International Capital Market Association (ICMA) or the Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI) and the Russian principles/standards for environmental protection and/or green financing and/or sustainability established by the Securities Issuance Standards, provided that the issue, issuer, or project has received independent verification confirming compliance with the above principles or standards.
The social bonds segment features bonds issued by Russian issuers whose bond issue(s), investment project(s), or issuer’s document(s) meet the internationally recognized Social Bonds Principles (SBP) of the International Capital Market Association (ICMA) and the Russian principles/standards for social financing and/or sustainable social projects established by the Securities Issuance Standards, provided that the issue, issuer, or project has received independent verification confirming compliance with the above principles or standards.
The sustainability bonds segment may feature bonds in relation to which the bond issue(s), investment project(s), or issuer’s policy for raising funds has received independent verification confirming compliance with the following internationally recognized standards and documents:
- Green Bonds Principles (GBP) of the International Capital Market Association (ICMA) or the Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI);
- Social Bonds Principles (SBP) of the International Capital Market Association (ICMA);
- the Russian Principles/Standards for Social Financing and/or Sustainable Social Projects, established by the Securities Issuance Standards.
The national and adaptation projects segment may feature bonds that meet the following requirements:
- a decision of a government body, official, or interdepartmental committee confirming alignment with the objectives and results of one of the following national projects: “Environmental Protection”, “Housing and Urban Environment”, “Comprehensive Plan of Modernization and Expansion of Key Infrastructure”, “Demographics”, “Healthcare”, “Education”, “Labor Productivity and Employment Support”, “Culture” or “Introduction of Best Available Technologies”; or
- independent verification confirming the project’s compliance with the criteria (taxonomy) for adaptation projects, with the condition that it will be financed with the proceeds from the bond placement.
Green financing is a key tool for lower-carbon development.
In order to be considered for inclusion in the Sustainability sector, an issuer must submit the following:
- an application for inclusion in the sector;
- a certificate from an external verifying body;
- a statement that the issuer undertakes to disclose information (no less than once a year throughout the lifetime of the bond) confirming that the funds raised are being put to appropriate use;
- for the national projects segment: a statement by a government body, official, or interdepartmental committee confirming that the offering, the issuer, or the investment project are consistent with the objectives and results of one of the national projects.
The Responsibility and Transparency Index and the Sustainability Vector Index are calculated in accordance with the partnership agreement signed in March 2019 between Moscow Exchange and the RSPP. The purpose of the partnership agreement is to develop and booster sustainable business practices among Russian issuers, improving their investment appeal and helping them become more transparent and trustworthy for investors.
The composition of the indices is reviewed annually through an RSPP analysis of the reporting of major Russian companies. The indices are released daily on the websites of Moscow Exchange and the RSPP, as well as through various news agencies.
ESG ETFs build their investment strategies and determine their asset structure based on the relevant sustainability stock indices of Moscow Exchange. By purchasing units of ESG ETFs, investors gain access to a diversified portfolio of the most successful Russian companies that comply with sustainability principles. Investors can manage the units independently. ETFs are the most popular securities with retail investors across the world.
In 2017, Moscow Exchange launched the Growth sector in cooperation with the Central Bank of Russia and a number of other partners, including the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation, SME Corporation and SME Bank.
The purpose of the sector is to help promising small and medium-sized enterprises raise capital. The primary objective of the sector is to facilitate the implementation of the national project “Small and Medium-sized Entrepreneurship and Support of Individual Entrepreneurship Initiatives”. The sector already has a mature ecosystem that includes:
- a set of rules of entry to the sector, including a risk management system for vetting companies;
- a set of partners (development institutions);
- a network of professional service organizations;
- government support tools;
- a specialized project team within Moscow Exchange which is experienced in working with SMEs.
The Growth sector of Moscow Exchange is supported by the government, per Russian Government Decree No. 532 dated 30 April 2019 Decree of the Russian Government No. 2374 dated 30 December 2020 amended the Subsidies Rules. , which provides for partial compensation of the costs of issuing shares and bonds and the costs of agreements on assignment of a credit rating.
Measures to support companies in the Growth sector include:
- subsidies of up to 70% of the coupon rate;
- compensation of up to RUB 2.5 million for the issuer’s costs on placement of the securities;
- anchor investments from SME Bank, with an option to act as the co-organizer of the offering;
- guarantees and endorsements for SME Corporation’s bond offerings (up to RUB 1 billion);
- help from the territorial divisions of the Central Bank of Russia in organizing events for issuers;
- waived listing fees for SMEs placing bonds of up to RUB 400 million up to the end of 2022;
- reduced free-float listing requirements for Tier II stocks: RUB 500 million (compared to RUB 1 billion) for ordinary stock, and RUB 250 million (compared to RUB 500 million) for preferred stock.
Listing rules for SMEs:
- the issuer must have been established at least three years prior to the issue;
- the issuer must have revenue of at least RUB 120 million. The maximum revenue must be less than RUB 10 billion for bond issuers and less than RUB 25 billion for issuers of shares;
- for bond issuers:
- the minimum issue volume is RUB 50 million;
- there must be an assigned rating or support from development institutions (guarantees from the SME Corporation, anchor investments from SME Bank).
Company screening and risk management
Companies that wish to join the Growth sector must meet a number of criteria. Each new issuer must undergo KYC (Know Your Customer) procedures that include a review by experts from Moscow Exchange departments who check each applicant against a set of risk parameters. If the review reveals any potential risks, the issuer’s file is forwarded to the Growth Sector Board Committee The Board includes representatives of Moscow Exchange’s partners: the Central Bank of Russia, the SME Corporation, SME Bank, Industrial Development Fund, and other organizations. , which then makes a final recommendation.
Many small and medium-sized businesses joined the Growth sector after receiving support from our partners, such as guarantees and endorsements from the SME Corporation, anchor investments from SME Bank, or a subsidized coupon rate (which significantly reduces the likelihood of default). Issuers in high-risk industries (real estate development, lease financing) can only join the Growth sector if they have an approved credit rating and have received a favorable recommendation from the Committee.
Innovation and Investment Market
The Innovation and Investment Market of Moscow Exchange was launched in 2009 to attract investments to the innovative sector of the Russian economy. The IIM consists of three segments. Each is intended for certain types of investors and issuers at different stages of development:
- The IIM sector helps innovative companies conduct IPO/SPOs and gain admission to public trading.
- The IIM-2 sector is a special exchange sector for private placements. Special exchange technology (block trading) is available for investors and issuers. This sector is for qualified investors only.
- The IPO board is an online information and trading system that provides access to venture capital and private equity for leading innovative small and medium-sized companies from Russia.
Key listing requirements:
- market capitalization of at least RUB 500 million;
- business areas: telecommunications, internet, software, development and production of semiconductor devices, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, high-tech, knowledge-based technologies, new materials, energy efficiency, etc.;
- credit rating assigned to the issuer and/or its bond issue by one of the approved ratings agencies;
- securities prospectus drawn up in line with Russian laws and information disclosure standards;
- investment memorandum containing detailed information about the company’s financial and operational activity and the main goals and plans for delivering potential growth.
The innovative segment requires the involvement of a listing agent (i.e., an advisory, broker, or investment company accredited by Moscow Exchange).
Measures to support companies in the IIM sector:
- marketing and promotion programs for issuers conducting an IPO/SPO;
- attracting investors targeting companies of the given type;
- IR services and tools: presentations for investors, roadshows, webinars;
- information and analytical coverage based on monthly IIM reports;
- access to pension savings: according to Central Bank of Russia Regulation No. 580-P, up to 5% of the portfolio of pension savings of NPFs can be invested in shares of issuers included in the IIM-Prime segment;
- tax incentives for investors.