Starbucks Issues $500 Million Note for Sustainability Projects

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Starbucks Corp. (NASDAQ: SBUX) on Monday announced that it had closed an underwritten offering of $500 million in senior unsecured notes to enhance its sustainability programs. The company said it is the first corporate sustainability bond issued in the United States.

Starbucks defines eligible sustainability programs as coffee purchases, including transportation and storage costs, meeting certain standards; development and operation of grower support centers and agronomy R&D centers; and loans made through the company’s Global Farmer Funds. Starbucks said in its prospectus that it intends to allocate the majority of the proceeds from the sale of the notes within one year.

The notes will bear interest at the rate of 2.45% per year and will mature on June 15, 2026, and they are general unsecured senior obligations of Starbucks, ranking equally in right of payment with all other unsecured senior indebtedness. As of March 27, 2016, Starbucks reported $2.85 billion in aggregate principal amount of senior unsecured notes outstanding.

The notes will be senior in right of payment to the company’s subordinated indebtedness and effectively junior in right of payment to secured indebtedness to the extent of the value of the collateral securing that indebtedness. As of March 27, 2016, Starbucks said it had no secured indebtedness.

Starbucks Chief Financial Officer Scott Maw said:

Coffee is at the core of our business, and we intend to continue to finance initiatives that will make a positive social and environmental impact in our coffee supply chain as well as other areas across our business. Issuing a bond focused on sustainable sourcing, demonstrates that sustainability is not just an add-on, but an integral part of Starbucks, including our strategy and finances.

Standard & Poor’s rated the sustainability notes and another $250 million issuance made the same day as A−, in line with the company’s corporate credit rating.

Starbucks stock traded down about 0.9% in the early afternoon Tuesday, at $55.03 in a 52-week range of $42.05 to $64.00. The stock’s consensus price target is $68.13.