African Development Bank sells record $3 billion "Fight COVID-19" bond

By Karin Strohecker and Yoruk Bahceli

LONDON, March 26 (Reuters) - The African Development Bank (AfDB) sold a record $3 billion debt issue on Thursday, joining the fold of multilateral and public lenders ramping up efforts to raise financing to help combat the fallout from the coronavirus outbreak.

The spread of the coronavirus - which has killed more than 22,000 people worldwide and wreaked havoc in economies and markets around the globe - has been slower across Africa than in Asia or Europe.

However, more than 40 nations on the continent have now reported a total of 2,850 cases with 73 death, according to a Reuters tally, amid rising concerns over what it could mean for a continent where healthcare systems are often fragile and overburdened already.

The three-year bond, the AfdB's biggest dollar issue to date, aims to provide "support and financing to countries and businesses fighting against COVID-19", a note from a lead manager of the issue said.

"Through this Fight COVID-19 Social Bond, investors will be able to support African communities to help curb the spread of the virus and overcome the many challenges caused by the outbreak," the statement said.

Order books grew to more than $4.6 billion, according to lead managers. The bond will pay a coupon of 0.75%.

"It was well received," said one lead manager on the deal, adding the funds being earmarked to fight the fallout from the health crisis would have motivated some investors, though it was broadly the bank's usual customers who bought the bond.

"These issuers... generally have very good social purpose so that's mainly the key driver I would say," the banker added.

The development bank, which is AAA-rated, is just one of a number of public issuers selling fresh debt linked to efforts to combat the virus spread.

The International Finance Corp sold a $1 billion dollar-denominated social bond as part of the World Bank Group's $12 billion coronavirus financing package.

Also on Thursday, the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) launched on a five-year dollar-denominated bond expected to price in the days to come. It is part of the IADB's $2 billion programme aimed at helping "countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean cope with challenges posed by the pandemic", according to another term sheet. (Reporting by Karin Strohecker and Yoruk Bahceli; Editing by Alex Richardson) 

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