A | ADVANCED PRACTICES OF RESPONSIBLE INVESTING
Global trends show that investment companies and financial institutions have been transforming their investment strategies. Issuers’ commitment to the principles of sustainability is becoming an important factor in choosing recipients of investment. As a participant in the Sustainable Stock Exchanges initiative, Moscow Exchange upholds the principles of responsible investment and creates opportunities to expand sustainable practices in Russia.
In 2019, in cooperation with the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation, Moscow Exchange launched its Sustainability sector, a special sector for trading target-oriented securities.
Objectives of the Sustainability sector:
- to help companies, public authorities, and other issuers raise funds for environmental and social projects;
- to create an environment conducive to foreign investment in Russian bonds;
- to offer a set of instruments for funding initiatives that meet the objectives of national projects and comply with Decree of the President of the Russian Federation No. 204, dated 7 May 2018, ‘On National Goals and Strategic Objectives of the Development of the Russian Federation to the Year 2024’.
The Sustainability sector consisted of four independent segments in 2022.
National and adaptation projects
Green bonds are debt securities, the proceeds of which are used to finance projects aimed at improving the environment. Such projects include renewable sources of energy, environmentally friendly transport, the improvement of energy efficiency, reduction of GHG emissions, waste recycling, etc.
Social bonds are debt securities, the proceeds of which are used to finance social projects. Such projects include the creation of social infrastructure or development of social services, construction of affordable housing, development small businesses, and other social objectives.
This segment includes the securities of companies implementing projects that promote environmental and social sustainability.
Securities in this segment must be consistent with the objectives of national projects or be compliant with the taxonomy of climate adaptation projects.
Principles for including bonds in the Sustainability sector
The green bonds segment includes bonds issued by Russian issuers whose bond issue(s), investment project(s), or issuer’s document(s) meet the internationally recognised Green Bonds Principles (GBP) of the International Capital Market Association (ICMA) or the Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI) and the Russian principles/standards for environmental protection and/or green financing and/or sustainability established by the Securities Issuance Standards, provided that the issue, issuer, or project has received independent verification confirming compliance with these principles or standards.
The social bonds segment includes bonds issued by Russian issuers whose bond issue(s), investment project(s), or issuer’s document(s) meet the internationally recognised Social Bonds Principles (SBP) of the International Capital Market Association (ICMA) and the Russian principles/standards for social financing and/or sustainable social projects established by the Securities Issuance Standards, provided that the issue, issuer, or project has received independent verification confirming compliance with these principles or standards.
The sustainability bonds segment may include bonds in relation to which the bond issue(s), investment project(s), or issuer’s policy for raising funds has received independent verification confirming compliance with the following internationally recognised standards and documents:
- Green Bonds Principles (GBP) of the International Capital Market Association (ICMA) or the Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI)
- Social Bonds Principles (SBP) of the International Capital Market Association (ICMA)
- Russian Principles/Standards for Green and Social Financing and/or Sustainable Social Projects established by the Securities Issuance Standards
The national and adaptation projects segment may include bonds that meet the following requirements decision of a government body, official, or interdepartmental committee confirming alignment with the objectives and results of one of the following national projects: Environmental Protection, Housing and Urban Environment, Comprehensive Plan of Modernisation and Expansion of Key Infrastructure, Demographics, Healthcare, Education, Labour Productivity and Employment Support, Culture, or Introduction of Best Available Technologies, independent verification confirming the project’s compliance with the criteria (taxonomy) for adaptation projects, with the condition that it be financed with the proceeds from the bond placement
To be considered for inclusion in the Sustainability sector, issuers must submit:
- an application for inclusion in the sector;
- a certificate from an external verification body;
- a statement that the issuer undertakes to disclose information (no less than once a year throughout the lifetime of the bond) confirming that the funds raised are being put to appropriate use;
- for the national projects segment: a statement from a government body, official, or interdepartmental committee confirming that the offering, the issuer, or the investment project are consistent with the objectives and results of one of the national projects.
- Listing Rules of Moscow Exchange
- Social Bonds Principles (SBP)
- Green Bond Principles of the International Capital Market Association, (ICMA), 2018
- Climate Bonds Standard of the Climate Bonds Initiative
- VEB.RF Taxonomy (VEB.RF National Methodology for Green Financing)
The Responsibility and Transparency Index and the Sustainability Vector Index are calculated in accordance with the partnership agreement signed in March 2019 between Moscow Exchange and the RSPP. The purpose of the partnership agreement is to develop and boost sustainable business practices among Russian issuers, improving their investment appeal and helping them become more transparent and trustworthy to investors.
The composition of the indices is reviewed annually through an RSPP analysis of the reporting of major Russian companies. The indices are released daily on the websites of Moscow Exchange and the RSPP, as well as through various news agencies.
ESG ETFs construct their investment strategies and determine their asset structures based on the relevant sustainability stock indices of Moscow Exchange. By purchasing units of ESG ETFs, investors gain access to a diversified portfolio of the most successful Russian companies that adhere to the principles of sustainability Investors can manage their units independently. ETFs are the most popular securities with retail investors around the world.
- Rules for Trading on the Equity and Bond Market of Moscow Exchange
In 2017, Moscow Exchange launched the Growth sector in cooperation with the Bank of Russia and a number of other partners, including the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation, SME Corporation, and SME Bank.
The purpose of the sector is to help promising small and medium-sized enterprises raise capital. The primary objective of the sector is to facilitate the implementation of the ‘Small and Medium-sized Entrepreneurship and Support of Individual Entrepreneurship Initiatives’ national project. The sector already has a mature ecosystem that includes:
- a set of rules for entry to the sector, including a risk management system for vetting companies
- a set of partners (development institutions)
- a network of professional service organisations
- government support tools
The Growth sector of Moscow Exchange is supported by the government, per Decree of the Russian Government No. 532, dated 30 April 2019, which provides for partial compensation of the costs of issuing shares and bonds and the costs of agreements on the assignment of a credit rating.
Measures to support companies in the Growth sector include:
- subsidies of up to 70% of the coupon rate;
- compensation of up to RUB 2.5 million for the issuer’s costs on the placement of the securities;
- anchor investments from SME Bank, with an option that it act as the co-organiser of the offering;
- guarantees and endorsements for SME Corporation’s bond offerings (up to RUB 1 billion);
- help from the territorial divisions of the Bank of Russia in organising events for issuers;
- waived listing fees for SMEs placing bonds of up to RUB 400 million up to the end of the year.
Listing rules for SMEs:
- The issuer must have been established at least three years prior to the issue.
- The issuer must have revenue of at least RUB 120 million. The maximum revenue must be less than RUB 10 billion for bond issuers and less than RUB 25 billion for issuers of shares.
For bond issuers:
- the minimum issue volume is RUB 50 million;
- there must be an assigned rating or support from development institutions (guarantees from SME Corporation or anchor investments from SME Bank).
Priority is given to:
- companies showing growth in their financial results
- industrial companies;
- companies with export revenue;
- companies that have received support from SME Corporation, SME Bank, FRP, REC, or RDIF.
Company screening and risk management
Companies that wish to join the Growth sector must meet a number of criteria. Every new issuer must undergo KYC (Know Your Customer) procedures that include a review by experts from departments of Moscow Exchange who vet every applicant against a set of risk parameters. If the review reveals any potential risks, the issuer’s file is forwarded to the Growth Sector Board Committee, which then makes a final recommendation.
Many small and medium-sized businesses joined the Growth sector after receiving support from our partners, such as guarantees and endorsements from SME Corporation, anchor investments from SME Bank, or a subsidised coupon rate (which significantly reduces the likelihood of default).
Innovation and investment market
The Innovation and Investment Market of Moscow Exchange was launched in 2009 to attract investments to the innovative sector of the Russian economy.
- Rules for Classifying Shares and Bonds of Russian Organisations, as well as Investment Units Circulating on the Organised Securities Market as Securities of the High-tech (Innovative) Sector of the Economy (approved by Decree of the Russian Government No. 156, dated 22 February 2012)
Key listing requirements:
- market capitalisation of at least RUB 500 million;
- business areas: telecommunications, internet, software, development and production of semiconductor devices, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, high-tech, knowledge-based technologies, new materials, energy efficiency, etc.;
- credit rating assigned to the issuer and/or its bond issue by one of the approved ratings agencies
- securities prospectus drawn up in line with Russian laws and information disclosure standards
- investment memorandum containing detailed information about the company’s financial and operational activity and the main goals and plans for delivering potential growth.
The innovative segment requires the involvement of a listing agent (i.e., an advisory, broker, or investment company accredited by Moscow Exchange).
Measures to support companies in the IIM sector:
- marketing and promotion programmes for issuers conducting IPOs/SPOs;
- attraction of investors targeting companies of the given type;
- IR services and tools: presentations for investors, roadshows, webinars;
- information and analytical coverage based on monthly IIM reports;
- access to pension savings: according to Bank of Russia Regulation No. 580-P, up to 5% of the portfolio of pension savings of NPFs can be invested in shares of issuers included in the IIM-Prime segment;
- tax incentives for investors.
Carbon unit market
Moscow Exchange believes that the creation of a voluntary market for carbon units is a key step in the creation of real economic incentives for decarbonisation projects as part of the Russian Federation’s commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement, adopted on 12 December 2015 by the 21st session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The project is also important in maintaining the competitiveness of exporting companies. The transition to a low-carbon economy requires an interim adaptation phase in which climate projects serve as an emissions regulation tool. Their implementation results in the generation of carbon units, the market for which contributes to the harmonisation of economic relations among the commodity market players subject to international agreement on the rules of the new turnover mechanisms.
- Federal Law No. 296-FZ, dated 2 July 2021 ‘On Limitation of Greenhouse Gas Emissions’ provides for the creation of a registry of carbon units to be operated by a legal entity authorised by the Government of the Russian Federation.
After addressing the issue, the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of the Russian Federation and Moscow Exchange have proposed the establishment of an infrastructure for the operator of a carbon accounting registry. The operator was established on the basis of Kontur JSC, an existing legal entity.
In the creation of a carbon unit registry operator, Moscow Exchange will have the following tasks:
- assisting the operator in supporting the operational processes of the operator’s platform;
- participating in the development of methodological and regulatory documents regulating the operator’s operational processes, interaction with registry customers, as well as with state bodies and international organisations;
- developing proposals for the operator’s participation in carbon unit trading and implementing such proposals together with other parties.
Carbon project and carbon unit registration process
A set of measures providing for the reduction (avoidance) of greenhouse gas emissions or their increased absorption can be a climate project. The project shall meet the following criteria to be recognised as a climate project:
- It is consistent with federal and regional law on the territory where the project is implemented and carried out pursuant to the documents of the national standardisation system for limited greenhouse gas emissions.
- It does not result in increased greenhouse gas emissions or their reduced absorption outside the project.
- It is supplementary to measures targeting compliance with the mandatory requirements of Russian law effective as of the start of the project.
- It is not a result of reduced production.
- The reduction (avoidance) of greenhouse gas emissions and/or their increased absorption within the project implementation period is not a result of factors unrelated to the project activities.
- Climate projects include low-carbon energy, resource conservation, efficient waste management, sustainable agriculture, and reforestation projects.
The project shall be registered in the carbon unit registry prior to its actual implementation.
To issue carbon units into circulation, it is necessary to:
- register the climate project in the carbon unit registry;
- submit an application for the issue of carbon units from an individual account on the Public Services (Functions) Portal of the Russian Federation with the following documents attached to it:
- a document certifying the powers of the climate project manager, contractor, or other authorised person who has signed the application for the issue;
- a verification report;
- the application for the issue with enclosed documents must be signed with an enhanced encrypted and certified digital signature and sent to the operator;
- submit an order to credit the carbon units to the account of the climate project contractor upon receipt of notification of the issuance of carbon units;
- pay the service.
Carbon unit and quota fulfilment unit
A carbon unit is a verified result of the implementation of a climate project expressed as a mass of greenhouse gases equivalent to one tonne of carbon dioxide.
A quota fulfilment unit is a verified result of the fulfilment of a set quota expressed as the difference between the set quota and the actual mass of greenhouse gases emitted, quoted in equivalent tonnes of carbon dioxide.
Climate project verification
Project verification is a process of evaluating and verifying the calculation of the number of carbon units issued. It must be carried out by a person accredited by the Russian Federal Service for Accreditation (RusAccreditation). The report is generated using the results of the implementation of a climate project verified in accordance with Part 5 of Article 9 of the Federal Law ‘On Limitation of Greenhouse Gas Emissions’ with a positive conclusion from the accredited person on the verification of the results of the implementation of the climate project (verification report).
The verification report shall be submitted together with the application for the issue of carbon units.
Carbon unit sale in commodity auction
To effect the sale and purchase of carbon units in a commodity auction on the National Mercantile Exchange, the vendor shall provide Moscow Exchange with an extract from the carbon unit registry issued to the applicant/bidder by the legal entity maintaining the carbon unit registry in accordance with the effective law of the Russian Federation which certifies the rights of the applicant/bidder to a minimum of 50 carbon units and/or quota fulfilment units.