(Bloomberg) — Seaspan Corp., an independent owner and operator of container ships, is looking to raise $500 million to help fund projects that it says would reduce the environmental impact of its fleet.
The Hong Kong-based company, a wholly owned subsidiary of asset manager Atlas Corp., is tapping the U.S. high-yield market with senior unsecured notes due in eight years. Seaspan is labeling the debt “blue transition bonds” as part of a plan to become a more eco-friendly operator.
Proceeds from the bonds may be used to fund projects such as building new container ships that use alternative or low-carbon emission fuel sources like liquefied natural gas, according to Seaspan’s blue transition bond framework. Investment in research and development, retrofitting, and vessel modifications to help advance the technical and operational efficiency of marine vessels are also eligible.
Citigroup Inc., Wells Fargo & Co, Bank of Montreal, Bank of America Corp. and BNP Paribas SA are managing the bond sale, which is expected to price on Friday.
While the Seychelles pioneered so-called blue bonds in 2018 to support sustainable fisheries, some in the sustainable finance world have begun using the label to refer to green bonds earmarked for marine and ocean-based projects.
Transition bonds, on the other hand, are notes issued by companies in polluting sectors, such as oil & gas, mining and transportation, to fund projects that will help curb their environmental impact. They are distinct from green bonds because they recognize that those borrowers will never be completely clean, and that some investors focused on environmental, social and governance issues will not buy.
“Many heavy-emitting potential bond issuers with an eye toward transition are looking for avenues to label what they see as a step in the right direction for their financing and activities,” said Mallory Rutigliano, a sustainable finance analyst at BloombergNEF. “One of the ways they are beginning to do so with more confidence is through transition-labeled instruments.”
Seaspan said in its framework that it has reduced its vessels’ carbon emissions by 25% since 2012 — about 9.2 million tons — and is focusing on vessel efficiency measures to improve metrics for new vessels and for those currently in operation. Its operational fleet consists of 131 vessels, with additional 55 vessels under construction, the firm said in a statement Tuesday.
“We hope this framework and any related debt issuances will inspire other similar companies to do the same,” the company said in the framework.
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