Sunday, 25 February 2024

ING pioneers sustainable financing for telecom

5 min read

ING has successfully converted a $160 million term loan for GIP EM Ascend 2 Pte. Ltd. (GIP EM) into a sustainability-linked loan (SLL).

Owned by GIP EM and its affiliates, Ascend Telecom is a leading telecom tower company based in India. This transaction marks Asia Pacific’s  (APAC) first SLL for a pure telecom tower company.

The SLL, with a maturity set for 2028, underscores ING’s support for Ascend Telecom's commitment to environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) goals to achieve sustainability targets in emissions reduction, waste management, and diversity. ING acted as joint sustainability coordinator and mandated lead arranger with Standard Chartered Bank (Singapore).

Anju Abrol, CEO and head of wholesale banking APAC at ING, commented: "As a pioneer in sustainable finance, we are pleased to be the joint sustainability coordinator and mandated lead arranger for this groundbreaking sustainability-linked loan, supporting Ascend Telecom’s shift to a greener future. Our sector expertise and commitment to sustainability has enabled us to set a new industry standard in one of the largest telecommunications markets in the world.”

India stands as one of the 11 key markets in the Asia Pacific for ING, having opened a representative office in November 2022 to tap into one of the world’s fastest growing economies.

As a pure telecom tower company providing crucial infrastructure support for the telecommunication industry, Ascend Telecom's sustainability targets are poised to create a ripple effect among wider telecom operators seeking to deliver services to a broader customer base. Network infrastructure energy efficiency is a top priority for operators, with base stations representing a significant portion of energy consumption.

Currently, telecom companies globally consume between 2% and 3% of the world's energy, with more energy consumption expected to be driven by rising demand for data usage. Despite 5G being more energy-efficient than 4G, the surge in network data traffic may offset this advantage. The International Telecom Union (ITU) has urged ICT organisations to set Net Zero GHG emission targets by 2040 or no later than 2050.

Sharad Malhotra, partner, emerging market fund at Global Infrastructure Partners, and director, Ascend Telecom commented: "We are proud to set a new benchmark with this sustainability-linked loan and in the process, making our contribution in helping the industry to achieve net zero targets. At Ascend, we recognise the importance of climate change and sustainability and continuously work on various initiatives to reduce emissions. This sustainability-linked loan demonstrates our strong commitment towards achieving our ESG objectives."

The landmark transaction builds on ING's reputation of launching the world's first SLL in April 2017. Since then, ING mobilised over EUR 100 billion ($108.4 billion) in sustainable finance globally in 2022, making substantial progress towards its goal of mobilizing EUR 125 billion ($135.5 billion) annually by 2025. ING, recognised as a sustainable finance pioneer, continues to guide clients toward adopting a more sustainable business approach.

Society is transitioning to a low-carbon economy. So are ING’s clients, and so is ING. The bank finances a lot of sustainable activities, but still finances more that’s not.

Re-disseminated by The Asian Banker

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