FMO partners with TCX to offer first US$7.5M synthetic bond to Sierra Leone

SIERRA LEONE – Dutch development bank FMO, in partnership with TCX, has issued the first-ever synthetic Sierra Leonean Leone bond (SLL).

The term synthetic refers to the fact that the bond is denominated in Sierra Leonean Leone, but the reconciliation of all cash flows is in USD.

The bond with an equivalent US$7.5 million counter value (around 85 billion Sierra Leonean Leone), has a term of 36 months.

FMO issued the notes with the support of ING who placed them with international investors seeking the diversification benefits and expected yield pickup of the Leone.

The investors bought FMO’s triple-A-rated notes with a coupon that reflected the risk exposure of the Sierra Leonean market.

FMO shows that there is a way to transfer risk from borrowers that cannot and should not bear it, to investors that are looking for the risk and return of frontier currency debt,” said Ruurd Brouwer, CEO, TCX.

“It allows Sierra Leonean investors to invest in their future in a financially sustainable way.”

This combination of AAA credit risk with frontier market risk and return represents an innovative asset class for which there is clear demand from global investors.

The original exposure emanated from renewable energy investments in Sierra Leone.

Energy companies receive local currency income and by hedging the loan with TCX, the lender could offer local currency, this prevents the project from exposure to foreign exchange risk.

Too often it is forgotten that the SDGs must be financed in (synthetic) local currency. If not, we will create debt crises that delay the transition to a green economy.”

By now ‘selling’ this risk through a local currency bond, TCX reduces its exposure to Sierra Leone risk, allowing the fund to support more loans in Sierra Leonean Leone.

”’We are very happy to see investors’ continued interest in frontier currency risk, especially in fragile markets such as Sierra Leone,” said Huib-Jan de Ruijter, Chief Investment Officer, FMO.

Foreign exchange rate volatility is frequently one of the greatest risks to the viability of local projects in countries with very thin or non-existent currency markets.”

Sierra Leone is amongst the world’s poorest countries, ranking 180th out of 187 in the Human Development Index.

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