There are currently 14 external reviewers (including Ernst & Young) recognised by HKMA.
A few tips
Because a pre-issuance external review is mandatory in either track, it is advisable for any applicant to consult a recognized external reviewer. The core references adopted by reviewers may include (a) the Green Bond Principles and Social Bond Principles developed by the International Capital Market Association (ICMA Bond Principles), (b) the Green Loan Principles and Social Loan Principles jointly issued by the Loan Market Association, the Asia-Pacific Loan Market Association and the Loan Syndications and Trading Association (LMA Loan Principles), (c) the Catalogue of Projects Supported by Green Bonds (绿色债券支持项目目录) issued by the People’s Bank of China, (d) EU Technical Expert Group final report on Sustainable Finance Taxonomy, (e) ISO/FDIS 14030-3 Environmental Performance Evaluation—Green debt instruments—Part 3: Taxonomy, and (f) Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the United Nations.
It is essential for the issuer/borrower to formulate the relevant bond/loan framework in line with the ICMA Bond Principles or LMA Loan Principles. The core elements of the framework should at least include (i) use of proceeds, (ii) process for project evaluation and selection, (iii) management of proceeds, and (iv) reporting.
Please refer to our earlier article for more details of such 4 elements.
HKMA does not require the eligible projects must be in Hong Kong or the proceeds must be used in Hong Kong.
Eligibility conditions are imposed on bond arrangers, loan lenders and external reviewers, but the Scheme does not require that the issuer/borrower must be a Hong Kong company.
Prior to or after the issuance of the bond/loan, it is desirable to consult the HKMA before submitting the formal application. The HKMA may indicate no-objection to the pre-application consultation if it is satisfied that, based on the preliminary information provided, the Scheme eligibility requirements are met.
A formal application may be made within 3 months after the bond/loan is issued. The HKMA processes applications in monthly batches.