Leading Banks Announce Adoption of Equator Principles

4 June 2003

Ten leading banks from seven countries today announced the adoption of the "Equator Principles," a set of guidelines developed by the banks for managing social and environmental issues related to the financing of development projects. The banks will apply the principles globally and to project financings in all industry sectors, including mining, oil and gas, and forestry.

The banks adopting the Equator Principles today are ABN AMRO Bank, N.V., Barclays plc, Citigroup, Inc., Crédit Lyonnais, Credit Suisse First Boston, HVB Group, Rabobank Group, The Royal Bank of Scotland, WestLB AG, and Westpac Banking Corporation. Together, these banks underwrote approximately $14.5 billion of project loans in 2002, representing approximately 30% of the project loan syndication market globally in 2002, according to Dealogic.

The Equator Principles are based on the policies and guidelines of the World Bank and International Finance Corporation (IFC). The banks received extensive advice and guidance from IFC, the private-sector investment arm of the World Bank, in drafting the Equator Principles.

In implementing the Equator Principles, banks currently have or will put in place internal policies and processes consistent with the principles.

In adopting the Equator Principles, a bank undertakes to provide loans only to those projects whose sponsors can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the bank their ability and willingness to comply with comprehensive processes aimed at ensuring that projects are developed in a socially responsible manner and according to sound environmental management practices.

The banks will apply the Equator Principles to all loans for projects with a capital cost of $50 million or more. Project finance, an important financing method in private-sector development globally, refers to the financing of projects where the repayment of the loan is dependent upon the revenues that a project is expected to generate once it is up and running.

The Equator Principles will use a screening process for projects which is based on IFC's environmental and social screening process. Projects will be categorized as A, B or C (high, medium or low environmental or social risk) by the banks, using common terminology. For A and B projects (high and medium risk), the borrower will complete an Environmental Assessment addressing the environmental and social issues identified in the categorization process. After appropriate consultation with affected local stakeholders, category A projects, and category B projects where appropriate, will prepare Environmental Management Plans which address mitigation and monitoring of environmental and social risks.

The Environmental Assessment will address such issues as:

  • Sustainable development and use of renewable natural resources.
  • Protection of human health, cultural properties, and biodiversity, including endangered species and sensitive ecosystems.
  • Use of dangerous substances.
  • Major hazards.
  • Occupational health and safety.
  • Fire prevention and life safety.
  • Socioeconomic impacts.
  • Land acquisition and land use.
  • Involuntary resettlement.
  • Impacts on indigenous peoples and communities.
  • Cumulative impacts of existing projects, the proposed project, and anticipated future projects.
  • Participation of affected parties in the design, review and implementation of the project.
  • Consideration of environmentally and socially preferable alternatives.
  • Efficient production, delivery and use of energy.
  • Pollution prevention and waste minimization, pollution controls (liquid effluents and air emissions) and solid and chemical waste management.

The borrower will be required to demonstrate to the bank that the project complies with host country laws and the World Bank and IFC Pollution Prevention and Abatement Guidelines for the relevant industry sector. For projects in the emerging markets, the borrower would also have to demonstrate that the Environmental Assessment has taken into account the IFC Safeguard Polices, which provide guidance on issues such as natural habitats, indigenous peoples, involuntary resettlement, safety of dams, forestry, and cultural property.

The full text of the Equator Principles and FAQ can be found at the Equator Principles website.

The World Bank and IFC Pollution Prevention and Abatement Guidelines are available at:

World Bank - Pollution Prevention and Abatement Handbook

IFC - Environmental, Health and Safety Guidelines

IFC Safeguard Policies can be found at:

IFC - Safeguard Policies

COMMENTS FROM AND INFORMATION ON EQUATOR BANKS AND IFC:

ABN AMRO Bank, N.V.

"We are pleased that the banking sesaid Herman Mulder, Co-Head of Group Risk Management at ABN AMRO.ctor is increasingly recognising the importance of environmental and social issues in conducting its business with its clients,"  "The Equator Principles will set a common baseline particularly relevant for one of the most vulnerable areas: project financing in emerging markets. ABN AMRO is strongly committed to taking further initiatives for sustainable development."

Netherlands-based ABN AMRO is a leading international bank with total assets of approximately EUR 556 billion. It has over 3,000 branches in 66 countries and territories, and has a staff of about 105,000 full time equivalents worldwide. ABN AMRO is listed on the Euronext, London and New York stock exchanges. ABN AMRO operates through three Strategic Business Units, each responsible for managing a distinct client segment. Wholesale Clients provides integrated corporate and investment banking services to corporate, institutional and public sector clients worldwide. Consumer & Commercial Clients focuses on retail and SME clients in three home markets - the Netherlands, the U.S. and Brazil - and in a number of selected growth markets. Private Clients & Asset Management provides private banking services to wealthy clients and investment products to financial intermediaries and institutional clients. For additional information: www.abnamro.com

Contact:

Hans van Zon
ABNAMRO
+31-20-6288900
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Barclays plc

"At Barclays we take our social and environmental responsibilities seriously. We have long been aware of the sensitivities surrounding project financing and only lend when we are satisfied that environmental impacts are being managed in accordance with stringent environmental criteria. We have been pleased to work alongside other leading banks to adopt the Equator Principles which gives us the opportunity to further formalize our commitment," said Chris Lendrum, Barclays Group Executive Director, responsible for Corporate Social Responsibility.

For more information about Barclays approach to corporate social responsibility, please go to social responsibility at www.Barclays.com

Contact:

Moya Galal
+44 (0) 207 699 4114
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Citigroup

"The adoption of the Equator Principles signifies a major step forward by the financial sector to establish a standardized, common framework to address the environmental and social issues that arise from development projects," said Charles Prince, chairman and chief executive officer of Citigroup's Global Corporate and Investment bank. "We are extremely proud to be part of this voluntary, private-sector initiative and we are confident that we will see more and more banks active in project finance adopt these principles in the coming months."

Citigroup (NYSE: C), the preeminent global financial services company with some 200 million customer accounts in more than 100 countries, provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, insurance, securities brokerage, and asset management. Major brand names under Citigroup's trademark red umbrella include Citibank, CitiFinancial, Primerica, Smith Barney, Banamex, and Travelers Life and Annuity. Additional information may be found at: www.citigroup.com.

Contact:

Christina Pretto
212-793-8217
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Crédit Lyonnais

"As a leader in the international project finance sector, Crédit Lyonnais is pleased to be associated with the Equator Principles initiative as a means of promoting environmentally and socially responsible conduct amongst the participants in this important market," said Alain Papiasse, Deputy Chief Executive, Head of Crédit Lyonnais' Investment and Corporate Banking. "We welcome the adoption, over time, of meaningful, internationally recognized standards in this respect to the benefit of stakeholders in project companies worldwide."

Crédit Lyonnais is one of the major French banking group with total assets of EUR 245 billion; it is involved in all banking activities, including retail banking in France, asset management and international private banking, investment and corporate banking for major French and international corporations. Additional information may be found at: www.creditlyonnais.com.

Contact:

Denis Kleinber
+ 33 1 42 95 46 34
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Credit Suisse First Boston

"Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB) is pleased to join this important coalition of financial institutions in support of the Equator Principles. As a major project finance lender globally, we are committed to operating our business in accordance with the key environmental considerations outlined in the Principles. Our support is consistent with Credit Suisse Group's ongoing commitment to social and environmental sustainability in all its business practices," said Steven Greenwald, Managing Director, Head of Project Finance, Credit Suisse First Boston.

Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB) is a leading global investment bank serving institutional, corporate, government and individual clients. It is a leader in the project finance business and a unit of Credit Suisse Group which was the first financial institution to introduce an environmental management system certified under ISO 14000 in 1997. In addition, Credit Suisse Group was among the first to sign the United National Environmental Policies (UNEP) Statement by Financial Institutions in 1992. The Group publishes an annual Sustainability report dealing with the Group's recent environmental and social contributions to its diverse customer, employee and geographic community constituencies (http://www.credit-suisse.com/en/corporate_citizen/sustainability.html).

Contact:

Pen Pendleton
CSFB
212-325-2590
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HVB Group

"The Equator Principles with their guidelines in the area of social and environmental responsibility are an important step towards a more vigorous advancement of sustainability in global project financing. They will help to ensure that ecological and social standards are observed and will promote transparency in business dealings," says Kai Henkel, Head of Global Project Finance at HVB. "For HVB, whose adherence to World Bank standards in lending dates back to 1998, the Principles are another component of environmental and sustainability management. Our commitment is based on the conviction that sustainability not only acts as security for our basic life, but is also an important driving force behind corporate value. Sustainability creates new growth and earnings potential, reduces credit risks and optimizes work flows," added Henkel.

With approximately €691 billion in total assets, about 8.5 million customers and over 65,000 employees, the HVB Group is the second largest private commercial bank in Germany, the clear number one in Austria and the leading bank in the growth markets of central and eastern Europe. The HVB Group has been very successful for a long time in environmental and sustainability management. Since September 2000 HVB has been included in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI), which shows the performance of enterprises in the whole world which are rated among the leading 10% in their sector as far as sustainability is concerned.

Further information on HVB Group and our sustainability activities are obtainable at: www.hvbgroup.com/sustainability.

Contact:

Oliver Gruß
+49 (0)89 378 25424
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International Finance Corporation - IFC

"The adoption of these Principles by the private sector marks a profound victory for sustainable development," said Peter Woicke, executive vice president of IFC and managing director of the World Bank Group. "Over the last several months, we at IFC have worked closely with private sector banks as they have drafted the Equator Principles, which draw on the extensive work the IFC has done in developing rigorous, comprehensive approaches to ensuring that the environmental and social impacts of project financings conform to the objective of sustainable development."

The mission of IFC is to promote sustainable private sector investment in developing countries, helping to reduce poverty and improve people's lives. IFC finances private sector investments in the developing world, mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, helps clients improve social and environmental sustainability, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses. Since its founding in 1956 through FY02, IFC has committed more than $34 billion of its own funds and arranged $21 billion in syndications for 2,825 companies in 140 developing countries. IFC's worldwide committed portfolio as of FY02 was $15.1 billion for its own account and $6.5 billion held for participants in loan syndications.

Contact:

Corrie Shanahan
IFC
(202) 473-2258
(202) 415-9676 (mobile)
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Rabobank Group

"Sound business principles are essential for sustainable development all over the globe," said Bart Jan Krouwel, Rabobank Managing Director Sustainability and Social Innovation. "Business and entrepreneurship in developing countries has to go hand in hand with good citizenship and transparent corporate governance. Therefore, I am delighted that so many players in the financial sector got their responsibility and agreed to follow the Equator Principles for project finance covering all industries and business sectors. Rabobank is convinced, as a major worldwide financial services provider in the food & agribusiness that this is the way forward to a sustainable society."

The Netherlands-based Rabobank Group is a broad financial services provider based on the Allfinanz concept. Following its cooperative foundation the Group's primary focus is on creating customer value. All the divisions of the Group work in close cooperation in order to jointly offer customers the best possible price-quality ratio and a wide range of financial services and products, such as payment, saving, lending, insuring and investing. The Group consists of about 350 independent local cooperative Rabobanks in the Netherlands and well-known subsidiaries such as Rabobank International, the Group's international corporate and investment banking arm, Robeco (asset management), De Lage Landen (vendor finance), Interpolis (insurance) and Gilde Investment (venture capital). The group is represented internationally with 169 locations in 34 countries. Credit ratings of the major international ratings agencies show that Rabobank is the most creditworthy privately held bank in the world. In its Dutch home market, the Rabobank Group has nine million private and business customers and is market leader in virtually every area of financial services.

Contact:

Jan Ph. K. Dost
Rabobank Group
+31-30-216-2411
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The Royal Bank of Scotland

"Observing the highest standards of corporate citizenship and behaviour not only benefits our business, but is the right thing to do. I am delighted that RBS is supporting this important initiative", said Johnny Cameron, Chief Executive, Corporate Banking and Financial Markets, The Royal Bank of Scotland. "The Corporate and Social responsibility agenda is one that is developing rapidly. While we already comply fully with the legislative and regulatory framework set by governments, we continue to adopt policies that progressively integrate social, environmental and ethical issues into all aspects of our business. The guidelines laid down in the Equator Principles are another important step in ensuring we continue to set and maintain ever higher standards."

The Royal Bank of Scotland was founded in 1727 and is a broadly based financial services group with operations spanning clearing banking, corporate banking, treasury, capital markets, financial services, investment management and insurance, in the UK, Europe, USA and Asia. It is the second largest in bank in Europe and the fifth largest banking group in the world by market capitalisation. The Group serves over 20 million customers. Through its Corporate Banking and Financial Markets division it provides a fully integrated Corporate, Institutional and Financial Markets capability to The Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest international corporate and institutional client base. Further information on RBS can be obtained at www.rbs.co.uk, and on its approach to Corporate and Social Responsibility at http://www.rbs.co.uk/Group_Information/Corporate_Responsibility/default.htm

Contact:

Anthony Frost
The Royal Bank of Scotland Group
Tel: +44 (0) 131 523 4414
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WestLB AG

"The Equator Principles offer a practical approach to sustainability in project finance. The fact that this approach has been worked out by banks themselves testifies to the sincerity with which the industry seeks to live up to new challenges," said Andreas Seibert, Member of the Board, WestLB AG.

WestLB AG is one of Germany´s leading internationally operating banks. As a focused commercial bank, it offers its customers - corporates, institutional investors, banks, savings banks and public-sector clients - a wide range of financial services in the fields of Financial Structuring, Equity Solutions, Credit Products, Treasury & Fixed Income and Asset Management. A main focus of its business is specialised finance, in particular project finance. Further information on WestLB AG is obtainable at www.westlb.de.

Contact:

Dr. Michael Wilde
WestLB
+49-211-826 2210
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Westpac Banking Corporation

Westpac's Group Executive Institutional Banking, Phil Coffey, said: "The adoption of these principles is an important step forward in promoting responsible project financing globally. We are pleased to support this sustainability initiative and encourage other financial institutions to adopt these principles."

Westpac was founded in 1817 and is Australia's first bank and company. We are a leading provider of banking and financial services in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Region servicing some 7.5 million customers. We offer a full suite of financial services including retail banking, institutional banking and wealth management services. Further information on Westpac can be obtained at www.westpac.com.au

Contact:

David Lording
+61 2 9226 3510
+61 (0) 419 683 411
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