The FINANCIAL — IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is investing EUR 137 million in subordinated green bonds issued by Bank Zachodni WBK, to expand its capital base and increase its capacity to finance climate-related projects.
This is the first green bonds issuance in Poland by a commercial bank, following the Polish government’s green bonds issuance last year—recognized by Climate Bonds Initiative as the first government issuance of green bonds worldwide. With IFC’s support, BZ WBK will be able to significantly expand its existing climate portfolio in renewable energy, green buildings, and climate-smart equipment, among others, according to IFC.
“Our cooperation with IFC started in 2016 when we signed a loan for our leasing subsidiary, supporting the growth of SMEs and women entrepreneurs in Poland. With this new transaction, we are emphasizing that the environmental aspects of our lending business are also very important. We are glad that we can partner in this project with IFC, a global expert in green finance,” said Maciej Reluga, CFO and Management Board member of Bank Zachodni WBK.
Poland has benefited from government support for green projects, and is among the top 10 countries in the European Union investing in energy efficiency measures. However, a lack of targeted financing products and low appetite for risk in climate financing has hindered the development of green finance. With IFC’s support, BZ WBK will play a key role in increasing investments in Poland’s climate financing market.
“A key priority in IFC’s climate finance strategy is to support existing clients that are already active in climate finance,” said Tomasz Telma, IFC Director for Europe and Central Asia. “BZ WBK is an excellent partner in this respect—the bank has a well-developed climate finance strategy and is committed to expanding its activities in this market segment. This should provide a strong impetus for further market development in Poland.”
Climate change remains a strategic priority for IFC. To date, IFC has invested $15.3 billion in long-term financing for renewable power, energy efficiency, climate smart agribusiness, green buildings and smart cities. In addition, IFC mobilized $10.1 billion of capital from other investors into climate business.
IFC began investing in Poland more than 25 years ago and has supported a number of projects in construction materials, hospitality, financial markets, and other sectors. Today, in line with the World Bank Group’s Country Partnership Strategy, IFC in Poland is looking to support projects in areas where it can have a catalytic effect, facilitate resource mobilization, co-finance European Union-funded projects, and support the international expansion of Polish companies.