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MAF clinches $1.25bn sustainability-linked loan

MAF is on a mission to make its leisure complexes and shopping malls across Mena carbon neutral, including the Mall of Emirates in Dubai

UAE-based retail group Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) has secured its second sustainability-linked loan as part of its strategy to become ‘net carbon positive’ by 2040.

The $1.25 billion-equivalent revolving credit facility with First Abu Dhabi Bank was agreed on Monday.

MAF, which owns and operates 29 shopping malls across the Middle East and Africa as well as a string of community, retail and leisure assets, aims to go beyond carbon neutral and take more carbon out of the atmosphere than it emits. 

MAF was one of the first three signatories to the World Green Building Council’s net zero carbon buildings commitment.

It has pledged to halve its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and to halve the volume of waste sent to landfill. It also aims to be net carbon positive in terms of its water footprint – contributing more to water resources than it takes from them – by 2040. 

The sustainability-linked loan (SLL) is structured on the basis of three performance indicators considered core to MAF’s operations, each of which are independently assessed every year. 

The first is to reduce the scope 1 and 2 emissions (those owned or controlled by the company) of MAF’s property portfolio, calculated on the basis of emissions per square metre and connected to the company’s goal of becoming net positive by 2030. 

The second is to have all of its malls certified a minimum of gold level or above in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (Leed) building rating system by 2026.

By 2027 it wants to increase the number of malls in its portfolio with a Leed platinum level. Around 45 of its assets have been assessed for this standard and a further 20 assessments are under way.

The third performance goal is to raise the number of women in top roles at MAF to 32 percent of the workforce. 

Tranches of funding will be provided to help meet each of the three objectives. 

The SLL is based on three performance indicators considered core to MAF’s operations, which are independently assessed every year. Picture: MAF

MAF raised a $1.5 billion SLL in August last year, which was reported at the time to be the largest corporate, non-government-linked SLL in the Mena real estate sector. More than 12 banks participated in the deal. 

The retailer said today it “remains the only borrower in the region with a ‘penalty-only’ loan structure”.  

“Today’s announcement maintains Majid Al Futtaim’s long-held commitment to becoming one of the most sustainably considerate companies regionally and globally,” said Ziad Chalhoub, chief financial officer at Majid Al Futtaim Holding.

“Through the new SLL, we are further extending our accountability in how we finance our operational and capital expenditures across the group.”

He continued: “Sustainable finance options are a vital solution in the quest to ensure the private sector creates a resilient economy and supports development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the future.”

Mustafa Al Khalfawi, head of global banking UAE and global head of government, sovereigns and public sector at First Abu Dhabi Bank added: “There is strong and growing demand for sustainability-linked banking facilities from UAE and GCC corporates, and we are working closely with our clients to drive positive environmental outcomes.”

First Abu Dhabi Bank claims to have issued the first green bond in the GCC in 2017. In October 2021 it became the first UAE and GCC bank to join the Net Zero Banking Alliance, aiming to ramp up climate action in the financial sector. 

The UAE government is working to promote sustainable economic growth and to become net zero carbon by 2050. 

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