FirstRand Adopts the Equator Principles

South Africa, 13 July 2009

On 13 July 2009, FirstRand adopted the Equator Principles, providing the group with a globally-recognised benchmark for managing environmental and social risk in its project finance transactions. The Equator Principles provide FirstRand Bank Ltd with a globally recognized benchmark for managing environmental and social risk in project financing and FirstRand Bank will be integrating the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standards and the World Bank Group Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) Guidelines into their existing lending practices to a more refined degree than it is currently.

The Equator Principles provide an opportunity for Equator Principle Financial Institutions to identify clients whose environmental practices may be unacceptable and to discuss with them how they can improve their business practices to address these issues. FirstRand is continually exploring ways to address environmental concerns with all its stakeholders and strives towards carbon neutrality. By adopting these principles, the negative impacts on ecosystems and communities affected by projects should be avoided or reduced, particularly as South Africa is recognised as being especially prone to the negative consequences of climate change. As a developing country, requirements for economic and social development need to be balanced with environmental management and climate change.

“Socially responsible investment and governance relies heavily on transparent standards that financiers use as a frame of reference in implementing their investment and lending policies,” says FirstRand CE elect Sizwe Nxasana. “The evolution of sustainable financial practices has encouraged investment institutions to introduce socially responsible investment issues into their investment and lending practices. Our adoption of the Equator Principles demonstrates our long-term commitment to socially responsible investment.”