Houthoff's Sustainable Finance team focuses on helping our clients achieve their environmental, social and governance (ESG) objectives.We assist our clients:
- with the funding of projects and businesses needed to create a long-term sustainable economy; and
- in navigating ESG financial regulation, including rules aimed at the financial stability of financial institutions and the impact of ESG risks.
With the European 2018 Action Plan on Sustainable Finance, the EU Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) and the Taxonomy Regulation, the EU has put itself in pole position to achieve a more sustainable economy. There is, however, still a lot of regulation required and as always, the devil is in the detail: we will need to see how the relevant technical standards will work in practice. Our integrated team of specialists is ready to assist with any issues the new rules and regulations may pose for you and your business.
Sustainable Debt SolutionsA new Green Bonds Standard (GBS) has been developed as part of the 2018 Action Plan of Sustainable Finance. We expect that the GBS will become an important tool in the sustainable finance box once it is approved by the Commission. We anticipate that the GBS will also impact ICMA's existing Green Loan Principles and will further standardise green financing solutions. In addition, blended finance and impact, for instance by way of co-investment or subordinated lending by government entities like Invest NL, will become increasingly important in transitioning to a sustainable economy. Houthoff also has extensive experience with project financing for renewable energy projects.
Sustainable Financial RegulationDe Nederlandsche Bank (the Dutch Central Bank – DNB) and the European Central Bank have made climate a key part of prudential regulation. Climate and other ESG factors are slowly filtering into all aspects of conducting business supervision, both on client treatment and disclosure including market disclosure. This builds on public goals such as climate which have been referenced in recitals to financial market disclosure for decades, but developments have accelerated. The taxonomy will provide a common vernacular, and the SFDR will provide a common – hopefully gradually comparable – disclosure framework for ESG, with a focus on the climate aspect. The main impact will be how capital requirements, good governance and duties of care will be adjusted to reflect this. This area is, as we speak, interpreting the high-level principles of good governance, and, for example, the prescription to prepare for all risks, to encompass not only awareness of but also preparedness for climate and other ESG risks. For example, from 2021 onwards, DNB will question prospective board members about their awareness of climate risks for the specific company they will become responsible for.
We advise banks, insurers, crypto service providers, investment firms and other financially regulated firms on how best to prepare for and handle this new aspect of the ever-expanding list of issues that they need to be a frontrunner on to be a stable, well-governed and trustworthy financial service provider. If this is not the case, we advise on how they can limit their institutional or personal risks. We work closely on this with our investment, finance, public enforcement and corporate colleagues.
Advised Renewi on its green bond financing.
Advised sponsors on the financing for several offshore and onshore windfarms in the Netherlands and Belgium.
Advised Van Oord on green term loans to finance two new vessels using cleaner technologies.
Advised senior lenders on the financing of the first metal recycling company in the Netherlands using a blended finance structure with financial support under the Energy Transition Facility from the Dutch department of economic affairs.
Advised fund managers, investment firms and institutional investors on implementing environmental, social and governance (ESG) related clauses in fund documentation, policy documents and fiduciary asset management agreements.