Children and youth of Kokkola innovate environmental actions in a competition sponsored by the Green Pioneer of the Year prize money

The City of Kokkola won our Green Pioneer of the Year competition last year. The prize money was used to organize a competition in which local children and youth could propose ideas for sustainable development initiatives.

Last fall, MuniFin awarded Kokkola the Green Pioneer of the Year title. The competition prize was EUR 10,000, which the winner could use for a sustainability project of their choice.

With the prize money, Kokkola organized a competition where preschool and school children could innovate projects related to climate and the environment.

“Environmental issues are crucial for the happiness of the younger generation. That’s why we in Kokkola believe in our children and young people and wanted to involve them in brainstorming for a green future,” explained Veli-Matti Isoaho, Head of Construction for the City of Kokkola, on the decision to organize the competition.

A total of 44 teams participated in the competition in four different age categories. Each team could submit one project for the competition. Ideas were collected during February and March 2024.

Ambitious and creative projects impressed the jury

The winners of the competition were announced at an award ceremony in early May organized by the City of Kokkola. The following groups were selected for their innovative ideas:

Early Childhood Education

Winner: Ulkometsä Daycare

Project: Integrating Recycling into Daily Daycare Activities

Preschool – 2nd Grade

Winner: Lohtaja Kirkonkylä School, 2nd Grade

Project: Nature-Friendly Schoolyard

3rd – 6th Grade

Winner: Kälviä Marttila School, 6th Grade

Project: Marttila School’s Backyard Garden

Junior High

Winner: Hakalahti School, 9A

Project: Biodiversity Protection Campaign

Each category winner will receive an EUR 2,500 cash prize, which the class or group can use as they wish.

Green Pioneer of the Year Won with the Piispanmäki Project

Last year, Kokkola won the competition with the Piispanmäki multi-functional building project. The city’s commitment to green financing requirements impressed the competition’s evaluation panel.

“Kokkola has admirably taken ownership of sustainable construction, which was evident in the Piispanmäki project. The initiative was managed internally, with the entire organization committed to it. It was a pleasure to see how Kokkola’s children and young people were involved in environmental discussions,” said Daniel Eriksson, MuniFin’s Customer Relationship Manager.

MuniFin first named a Green Pioneer of the Year among its clients in 2019, recognizing those who have ambitiously advanced climate and environmental goals.

Read more:

The city of Kokkola is the Green Pioneer of the year 2023

Welfare society needs social glue that fosters a sense of community

In 2023, the number of our social finance projects increased by over 40% from the year before. A growing awareness of sustainability matters coupled with increasing stakeholder expectations are pushing up the demand for our sustainable finance.

Our raison d’être and the main duty of our customers is to build up the Finnish welfare state. Our customers are tasked with organising the basic functions of society, such as health and social services, daycare, basic education, care for the elderly, infrastructure, affordable housing and various cultural and sports services. The values of the Nordic welfare state are inherent in the work of our social finance customers, whose investments often also benefit the environment and climate.

We published our first sustainability agenda in October, sharing our goal of increasing the proportion of our social finance to 8% of our long-term customer financing by 2030. More and more, our customers are bringing up themes related to our social and green finance in our interactions, signalling a growing awareness of sustainability. Our customers’ own stakeholders are also interested in these themes, so the push to improve sustainability is coming from many fronts. As a result, a growing number of projects are now meeting the criteria for our sustainable finance.

In 2023, the number of projects accepted into our social finance portfolio increased by over 40% from the year before. We approved 34 projects, the majority of which are welfare projects or housing solutions aimed at the most vulnerable population. It is safe to say that we are well on the way towards our goal.

The responsibility for organising healthcare, social welfare and rescue services was transferred from municipalities to wellbeing services counties on 1 January 2023, but municipalities nevertheless continue to play a vital role in promoting good health and wellbeing. Many of our social finance projects are important not only to their users, but also to the vitality of the municipality. Investments that generate activity are a signal to companies that the municipality will stay vital.

For residents, social finance projects signify better services: communal living solutions, healthcare services, modern and healthy learning environments and more opportunities for hobbies, cultural activities and sports. In addition to creating the setting for municipal operations, the project buildings often double as venues for sports, culture and other activities offered by the voluntary sector. The projects cater for people of different ages, backgrounds and cultures, but most of all, they bring people together. This is the social glue that we need to keep the welfare society together in a time of heightened individualism and polarisation.

Rami Erkkilä, Senior Specialist, sustainable finance
Rami Erkkilä is responsible for green and social finance products at MuniFin.

The article was originally published on the 7th of March as a part of MuniFin Social impact report 2023.

MuniFin Social impact report 2023

Finnish affordable social housing organisations forerunners in sustainable construction – majority of loans are green or social finance

The Finnish affordable social housing sector plays a significant role in the development of a sustainable welfare state. In 2023, a vast majority of MuniFin’s housing loans were granted to either green or social finance projects.

An increasing amount of housing in Finland is being constructed and financed with consideration for social and environmental factors. Our customers, including affordable social housing organizations and municipal rental housing projects, play a significant role in this trend. Last year, the share of green and social finance in our housing loans reached a record high of 63 percent.

“An increasing number of our customers have made it their mission to carry out their projects more sustainably, taking into account environmental, climate or social benefits. Affordable social housing production is at the absolute forefront of sustainable construction in Finland”, says Päivi Petäjäniemi, Customer Relations Manager at MuniFin.

MuniFin was the first in Finland to start offering green finance for climate and environmentally friendly projects in 2016. In 2020, we also became the first to launch social finance, which emphasizes the social benefits of the projects: equality, communality, safety, welfare, or regional vitality.

“Our customers were among the first to learn about green and social finance, and we have persistently kept the topic on the agenda ever since. Nowadays, they have comprehensive knowledge of their alternatives, and they proactively seek green and social finance to give visibility to their projects. All their projects are significant for the Finnish welfare society, but the ones that fall under the green and social finance framework, are truly best in class”, Petäjäniemi explains.

Buildings and construction account for about a third of Finland’s greenhouse gas emissions*. The figures show that Finnish municipalities and non-profit housing operators are strongly involved in climate efforts.

The energy efficiency of affordable social housing buildings is generally higher than buildings in the private sector*. One factor is the forthcoming Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSDR), which is already directing the larger operators towards more sustainable choices. Also, the residents of newly constructed homes are increasingly demanding more energy-efficient housing solutions.

“More and more buildings are built in energy class A, which is the minimum demand in our green finance framework. Our customers are bold and want to try new things, so I expect to see a rising number of projects that also consider the impacts of the entire life cycle and construction chain. The challenge for now is that costs may seem higher in the construction phase. Saved energy costs for example, show in the long run, and our customers have strict demands for affordability from The Housing Finance and Development Centre of Finland (Ara), which oversees the projects.”

The prerequisites for the approval of social finance projects consider the social benefits of the projects.

“Our customers are increasingly planning housing as a whole, and this is clearly visible in projects for special groups. For example, they want to provide every student with their own apartment, but there is increasing investment in shared spaces, which promotes community and prevents loneliness. Residents are also offered various services, such as car-sharing or resident counselling”, Petäjäniemi says.

Finnish affordable social housing supports social mixing and brings down homelessness

In Finland, affordable social housing is mainly provided by municipality-owned companies and nationwide non-profit organisations. The production is financed through interest subsidy loans. The loans are guaranteed by the Finnish state through The Housing Finance and Development Centre of Finland (Ara), which is administered by the Ministry of the Environment. Alternatively, housing projects can also be loans to municipality owned companies. These loans do not have a state interest subsidy, but they come with a 100% municipal guarantee.

MuniFin is the main financier of affordable social housing production in Finland. The loan periods are long, up to 41 years.

The Finnish government updated its housing policy development programme in 2021. Some of the main objectives of this programme include increasing housing construction in growing urban areas and eradicating homelessness within two government terms. Affordable social housing has played a remarkable role in tackling homelessness in Finland, especially family homelessness. Affordable social housing is also instrumental in preventing segregation and facilitating labour mobility.

Read more:

Finnish system for affordable social housing supports social mixing and brings down homelessness

Our sustainability agenda sets the direction until 2035

As outlined in our strategy, key aspects of sustainability at MuniFin include acting as our customers’ partner in building a sustainable society while efficiently managing climate-related and environmental risks.

Our long-term impact stems from the products and services we offer our customers. In our sustainability agenda published in 2023, we set the direction and goals for our sustainability efforts until 2035.

In this agenda, we commit to increasing the proportion of sustainable finance in our lending portfolio into one third by 2030. In 2023, the share was 21,3 percent. We also set emission reduction targets for financed buildings. Our target level is 8 kgCO₂/m² by 2035, representing reduction compared to the 2022 level.

MuniFin's Sustainability Agenda

*The Confederation of Finnish Construction Industries RT (CFCI): https://rt.fi/tietoa-alasta/ymparisto-ja-ilmasto/vahahiilinen-rakentaminen/

*Finnish Affordable Housing Companies’ Federation: https://www.kovary.fi/kohtuuhintaisilla-asuntotoimijoilla-energiatehokkaita-kiinteistoja/

More information

Karoliina Kajova

Senior Manager, Funding

 +358 50 5767 707 

MuniFin’s second USD benchmark of the year attracted high-quality investors

Three months following the record-breaking USD 1.5 billion issuance in January, MuniFin returns to the USD market with another 1 billion benchmark. The 3-year bond successfully gathered a high-quality orderbook.

On Tuesday 16 April, MuniFin issued a new 3-year USD 1 billion benchmark with initial price guidance of MS+33 basis points. Investor demand continued to grow throughout the morning and books closed a few hours later in excess of USD 1.5 billion.

The bond was priced at MS +33 basis points, consistent with the initial guidance, with a coupon of 4.875%, a reoffer price of 99.708% and a re-offer yield of 4.981%. It carries a spread of 18 basis points over the CT 3 4.500% due 15 April 2027.

The final orderbook was geographically diverse with 48 high-quality accounts participating. Central banks took 57% of the allocations, followed by Banks and bank treasuries (40%), and Asset Managers, taking the remaining 3%.

“Investor demand started to accumulate after a moderate start, eventually reaching over USD 1.5 billion. We were particularly pleased with the quality of the final orderbook, as majority was allocated to central banks and official institutions. We have now successfully secured a little less than half of our funding target for the year”, says Analyst Aaro Koski.

After this transaction, MuniFin has now completed EUR 4.5 billion of its EUR 9–10 billion funding programme for 2024.

Photo of Aaro Koski
Aaro Koski, Analyst at MuniFin’s Funding and Sustainability team.

Distribution

Transaction details

Issuer:Municipality Finance Plc (“MuniFin”)
Rating:Aa1 / AA+ (Moody’s/S&P – both stable)
Issue Size:USD 1 billion
Payment Date:23 April 2024 (T+5)
Maturity Date:23 April 2027
Coupon:4.875%
Re-offer Price:99.667%
Re-offer Yield:4.996%
Re-offer vs. Mid Swaps:+33bps
Re-offer vs. Benchmark:CT 3 4.500% due 15 April 2027 +18bps
ISIN:XS2807531657 / US62630CEL19
Lead ManagersJ.P. Morgan SE, Morgan Stanley Co & International PLC, Nomura Financial Products Europe GmbH, TD Global Finance unlimited company

Comments from Lead Managers

Ben Adubi, Managing Director, Head of SSA, Morgan Stanley:

“Another successful outing in the USD market for MuniFin following their strong 5-year issued earlier this year. Taking advantage of the favourable move in swap spreads and recent sell-off in rates, the deal amassed a high-quality and granular orderbook with 57% of allocations to CB/OIs, which is a testament to the strength of MuniFin’s credit quality and their opportunistic funding strategy. Congratulations to the MuniFin team on a stellar start to Q2, following on from an impressive start to the year, Morgan Stanley is delighted to have been involved!”

Mark Yeomans, Managing Director, Nomura:

“Yet another strong USD outing from MuniFin; with the new 3-year benchmark complementing the 5-year issued earlier in January. MuniFin took advantage of the global back up in rates to deliver another record 4.875% coupon for investors, as witnessed in their previous 3-year from last October. The quality of the orderbook is a testament to the investor following that MuniFin enjoys as a safe haven asset and the diligent investor outreach of the entire funding team. Nomura were delighted to be a part of such an important transaction.”

Ioannis Rallis, Executive Director, Head of SSA DCM, J.P. Morgan:

“Congratulations to the MuniFin team for printing another solid USD benchmark this year! Despite uncertain geopolitical backdrop and busy pipeline in the week, MuniFin was successfully able to achieve its tightest spread vs SOFR MS (+33bps) for a MuniFin USD 3-year benchmark. The high quality of the orderbook reflected in the 57% allocation to CB/OIs is a testament to investor confidence in MuniFin’s name. We are delighted to be involved in this transaction.”

Laura Quinn, Managing Director, Global Co-Head of SSA and Head of Dublin Debt Capital Markets:

“Congratulations to the MuniFin team on a successful USD benchmark transaction, launching their first 3-year USD benchmark in 2024 and second USD benchmark this year. MuniFin secured an efficient funding window this week to ensure they could complete their USD 1 billion funding exercise.  The exceptionally high-quality orderbook is a testament to MuniFin’s standing in the fixed income market.”

Read more

MuniFin’s USD 1.5 billion benchmark faced phenomenal demand 

Further information

Joakim Holmström
Executive Vice President, Capital Markets and Sustainability
+358 50 4443 638

Antti Kontio
Head of Funding and Sustainability
+358 50 3700 285

Karoliina Kajova
Senior Manager, Funding
+358 50 5767 707

Lari Toppinen
Senior Analyst, Funding
+358 50 4079 300

Aaro Koski
Analyst, Funding
+358 45 1387 465

Greener energy production changes impact reporting – Nordic green bonds impact reporting recommendations updated

MuniFin is part of a Nordic public sector issuer group that has released a new edition of the Position Paper on Green Bonds Impact Reporting. The updates to these reporting recommendations stem from recent market developments, especially from emission reductions in energy production.

Published by Nordic public sector issuers, the Position Paper on Green Bonds Impact Reporting is a practical guide to reporting the environmental impact of projects financed through green bonds. It includes impact indicators, calculation methods and reporting practices.

“The material changes in the 2024 update include revised emission factors for electricity and district heating, new recommendations for vintage reporting and more specific recommendations on topics such as look-back/allocation periods, refinancing, ESG strategy and risk management”, says MuniFin’s Sustainability Manager Mikko Noronen.

In the latest edition of the position paper, the issuer group revised the emission factors for electricity and district heating downwards to reflect the energy sector’s rapid transition towards fossil-free energy sources.

Nordic recommendations harmonise the green bonds market

The purpose of the Nordic reporting recommendations is to create harmonious and transparent green bonds impact reporting principles that cultivate market practices. This allows issuers to report on the environmental impact of their financed projects in a way that offers investors high-quality information that is comparable, transparent and also supports the investors’ own reporting.

“For sustainable bonds to retain and strengthen their credibility as useful tools to finance the transition, it is of importance that market participants undertake issuance and reporting in a diligent and transparent manner”, says Björn Bergstrand, Head of Sustainability at Sweden’s Kommuninvest and coordinator of the Nordic cooperation.

Developed to assist Nordic public sector borrowers in reporting the environmental impact from their investments, the Position Paper on Green Bonds Impact Reporting has come to be used by issuers also in the private sector.

The Position Paper on Green Bonds Impact Reporting was first introduced in 2017 and is now in its fourth edition.

The Nordic public sector issuer group publishing the Position Paper on Green Bonds Impact Reporting includes MuniFin and MuniFin’s Nordic public sector counterparts, Kommunalbanken in Norway, KommuneKredit in Denmark and Kommuninvest in Sweden, as well as the Swedish Export Credit Corporation (SEK) and a number of Swedish municipal and regional issuers.

Position Paper on Green Bonds Impact Reporting_(2024)

MuniFin Green Impact Report 2023

Press release: Nordic issuers update green bonds reporting guidance

Further information

Mikko Noronen, Sustainability Manager
mikko.noronen(at)munifin.fi
Tel. +358 50 4797 533

MuniFin’s role as a trusted financing partner has grown even more important – 2023 annual report and sustainable finance impact reports published

We have published our annual report for 2023. We have also published the impact reports on our green and social finance and the Pillar III disclosure report on capital adequacy.

The year 2023 was the fourth consecutive year marked by instability. In these uncertain times, our role as our customers’ trusted financing partner has grown even more important. At MuniFin, 2023 was a year when we put sustainability even more front and centre as we revised our strategy and published our first sustainability agenda.

The volatile operating environment did not significantly affect our performance. Our operations remained stable, and we were again able to successfully carry out our core mandate of providing affordable long-term financing for our customers.

Our long-term customer finance increased by about 10% from the previous year. Our new long-term customer financing remained on a par with 2022, totalling EUR 4.4 billion. Our profitability was slightly higher than in 2022.

The amount of our sustainable finance, i.e. our green and social finance, grew by about EUR 2 billion in 2023. Our sustainable finance products are our way of encouraging our customers to make more responsible investments. Read more about the impacts of our sustainable finance in the green and social impact reports published today.

What was the year 2023 like at MuniFin?

MuniFin Annual Report 2023

MuniFin Green Impact Report 2023

MuniFin Social Impact Report 2023

MuniFin Pillar III Disclosure Report 2023

MuniFin returned to the Sterling market with its first GBP deal of the year

MuniFin’s GBP 250 million issue on February 29 was well received in the market, with particularly strong participation from central banks and official institutions. With this transaction, MuniFin has now printed one third of its EUR 9–10 billion funding programme for the year 2024.

Distribution of the transaction was once again broad both in terms of investor types and geographics, which is testament to MuniFin’s strong position in the global investor community. 

Central banks and official institutions were the largest investor component, taking 59% of the final book. The participation was also strong from banks and bank treasuries (39%), with fund managers, pension funds and insurance accounts representing 2%. In terms of geography, the transaction was broadly diversified across UK (41%), Asia (34%) and EMEA ex. UK (25%) investors.

“This was our first GBP line of the year, and it was great to extend our GBP issuance curve today. We are grateful for the investor following we have in the Sterling market and it has been a pleasure to be able to be on the screens again”, says Senior Manager Karoliina Kajova from MuniFin’s funding and sustainability team.

Press release from bookrunners

Issuer:Municipality Finance Plc (“Munifin”)
Ratings:Aa1 / AA+ (both Stable) by Moody’s / S&P
Format:Senior, Unsecured, Reg S, Registered
Coupon:4.375% Fixed, Annual, ACT/ACT ICMA, short first
Size:GBP250 million
Pricing Date:29th February 2024
Payment Date:7th March 2024 (T+5)
Maturity Date:2nd October 2028
Reoffer Spread:SONIA MS + 30 bps | UKT Oct-28 + 29.6bps
Joint Bookrunners:J.P. Morgan, RBC Capital Markets, TD Securities

Comments from bookrunners

“Congratulations to the MuniFin team for a strong return to the GBP market, taking advantage of a clear issuance window to extend their GBP curve with a new benchmark. The strong support from a diverse group of investors and the competitive price point is a testament to MuniFin’s standing in the international market. We’re delighted to be involved!”
Tina Nguyen, Vice President, SSA DCM, J.P. Morgan

Congratulations to the MuniFin team on the new GBP Oct-28 Benchmark. Taking advantage of a clear issuance window, MuniFin were able to extend their GBP Benchmark curve and maintain their regular presence in the Sterling SSA market. RBC were delighted to be a part of the transaction.”
James Taunton, Director, SSA DCM, RBC Capital Markets

We are delighted to be involved in MuniFin’s successful return to the Sterling market with their first GBP Benchmark of the year. This syndication is a clear demonstration of their global support from a diversified investor base. Congratulations to the MuniFin team on an excellent trade.
Paul Eustace, Managing Director, Global Co-Head of SSA and Head of Europe and Asia Syndicate, TD Securities

Further information

Joakim Holmström
Executive Vice President, Capital Markets and Sustainability
+358 50 4443 638

Antti Kontio
Head of Funding and Sustainability
+358 50 3700 285

Karoliina Kajova
Senior Manager, Funding
+358 50 5767 707

Lari Toppinen
Senior Analyst, Funding
+358 50 4079 300

Aaro Koski
Analyst, Funding
+358 45 1387 465

The Finlandia Prize Awarded Martta Wendelin Daycare Centre is a demonstration of environmental consciousness and child-focused philosophy

Originating from the vision of children, the Tuusula-based Martta Wendelin Daycare Centre embodies respect for children and sustainable development.

Since the summer of 2022, this exceptional building has added life to the scenery of the municipality of Tuusula in Southern Finland. The Martta Wendelin Daycare Centre, designed with children’s needs in mind, won the prestigious Finlandia Prize for Architecture for its distinctive architecture and execution.

User-oriented approach and ecological values steered the project

As part of the service network design in 2018, Tuusula resolved to replace several old daycare centres with new buildings. Stemming from a vision of preschoolers, the Martta Wendelin Daycare Centre was established, resulting in a new daycare centre in Tuusula with 10 groups, providing about 200 daycare places for children.

“The idea for the daycare centre was born when we started sketching a vision of the dream playground together with preschool-aged children. Later, the Martta Wendelin Society joined the project. This was natural, as the artist Martta Wendelin, known for her depictions of Finnish rural and home life, spent most of her life right here in Tuusula,” recalls Tiina Simons, Director of Education in Tuusula, about the early stages of the project.

Martta Wendelin’s art is also a prominent part of the daycare’s interior decoration.

“The entire project has been carried out using user-centred design. The history of Tuusula has been brought into the building in a skillful and beautiful manner,” says Pirjo Sirén, Director of Municipal Development.

Significant efforts have been made in the implementation of the Martta Wendelin Daycare to utilise environmentally friendly solutions and climate-smart construction. This can be seen, for example, in the energy efficiency and in the way the principles of the circular economy have been taken into account both during the construction phase and in the planning of the building’s life cycle.

Thanks to its environmental friendliness, the project has been financed with green finance from MuniFin.

“Although the high-quality implementation of the daycare required a significant investment, we expect to achieve savings on the operating budget side. Combining four early education units into one makes the organization of operations more cost-effective and the maintenance of the property easier,” says Markku Vehmas, the acting Chief of Staff of the municipality.

Children and nature come first

The Martta Wendelin Daycare Centre embodies respect for the environment and sustainable development. The building has been constructed with materials that prioritise environmental friendliness and health.

“The structures of the exterior and interior walls as well as the intermediate floors have used CLT massive construction that acts as a carbon sink. The design of the spaces has focused on diversity and flexibility so that they can serve different purposes. The yard designed for play and exercise beautifully opens to the south. Part of the forest has also been left on the yard area to be preserved, as well as a stormwater puddle where children can jump to their heart’s content in rainy weather,” Sirén describes.

“The building has also not been filled with colors or artworks. The wooden surfaces create frames into which the children can bring colors,” Simons continues.

The exceptional nature of the building has brought various recognitions to the municipality. In addition to the Finlandia Prize for Architecture, the daycare centre has also won the 2023 International Award for Wood Architecture, awarded by five European architectural journals.

“I also consider the awards as a tribute to our high-quality early childhood education,” Simons states.

Most importantly, positive feedback has been received from the users of the building.

“We have received particular praise for the brightness and spaciousness of the spaces. Children love being at the daycare and enjoy themselves both indoors and in the yard activities,” Simons rejoices.

Finance for Finland's green transition

MuniFin has offered its customers green finance for sustainable investments since 2016. Funding for green projects is sourced by issuing green bonds. For investors, MuniFin’s green bonds offer a way to finance positive impacts through carefully selected projects in e.g. buildings, transportation and renewable energy categories.

Read more about green bonds

Text: Anne Laiho
Photo: The municipality of Tuusula

MuniFin debuted successfully in the NOK social bond market

MuniFin’s inaugural NOK social bond was issued on 13 February. Despite ample supply from SSA issuers in the NOK market, the demand for the NOK 2 billion issue was strong, with a high quality investor base.

The issue marked both MuniFin’s first ESG labelled bond and the first NOK trade this year. The books built very quickly and were closed at a spread of +25 bps over 3-month Nibor.

“Over the past years, MuniFin has established themselves as a frequent issuer in the Nordic market, popular amongst a wide array of investors. The new issue marks the first social bond issued by MuniFin in Norway and the label was a significant contributor to the great investor demand”, says Hedda Giæver, Head of IG International, DBN Bank ASA.

The strong investor base showcased significant interest from bank treasuries, as well as domestic and foreign real money, including pension insurance and asset managers.

80% of the issue was allocated to Norwegian investors.

“We are extremely happy to have been able to return to the Norwegian Krona market. What’s even more pleasing is to be able to do it with a social bond. It is in the very core of our Sustainability Agenda to provide financing to social projects and increase their share in our lending portfolio. We are ever grateful for the support from our investors”, says Aaro Koski, MuniFin’s Funding Analyst.

Transaction details

Issuer:Municipality Finance (KUNTA, MuniFin)
Issue Rating:Aa1/AA+
Status:Senior unsecured
Reoffer Price:99.631% / 4.083%
Reoffer Spread:3mN+25bps
Issue Size:NOK 2bn
Settlement:20 February 2024
Maturity:20 February 2029
Coupon:4% Fixed, Annual, Act/Act Icma Unadjusted Following
Listing:Nasdaq Helsinki
ISIN:XS2769883955
Lead Manager:DNB Markets

Further information

Joakim Holmström, Executive Vice President, Capital Markets and Sustainability, +358 50 4443 638  
Antti Kontio, Head of Funding and Sustainability, +358 50 3700 285 
Karoliina Kajova, Senior Manager, Funding, +358 50 5767 707 
Lari Toppinen, Senior Analyst, Funding, +358 50 4079 300 
Aaro Koski, Analyst, Funding, +358 45 138 746

MuniFin’s Financial Statements Bulletin 1 January–31 December 2023 is published

In brief: MuniFin Group in 2023

  • The Group’s net operating profit excluding unrealised fair value changes in January–December increased by 3.2% and amounted to EUR 176 million (EUR 170 million). The net interest income grew by 7.5% propelled by rising short-term market rates and totalled EUR 259 million (EUR 241 million). The growth in result was slowed down by an increase in costs.
  • Net operating profit amounted to EUR 139 million (EUR 215 million). Unrealised fair value changes amounted to EUR -37 million (EUR 45 million) in the financial year. Unrealised fair value changes were influenced in particular by changes in interest rate expectations and credit risk spreads in the Group’s main funding markets.
  • Costs in the financial year amounted to EUR 82 million (EUR 73 million). The growth in costs was primarily driven by the almost quadrupled guarantee commission of EUR 13 million (EUR 4 million) paid to the Municipal Guarantee Board, which resulted from a change in the calculation method. The guarantee commission is a compensation for the guarantees the Municipal Guarantee Board grants to MuniFin’s funding.
  • The Group’s leverage ratio continued to strengthen, standing at 12.0% (11.6%) at the end of December.
  • At the end of December, the Group’s CET1 capital ratio was very strong at 103,4% (97.6%). CET1 capital ratio was well over the total requirement of 13.9%, with capital buffers accounted for. Because MuniFin Group only has CET1 capital, Tier 1 and total capital ratios are the same with the CET1 capital ratio, 103.4% (97.6%).
  • The Russian invasion of Ukraine has not had a significant effect on the Group’s operations. The war has accelerated inflation and pushed up market interest rates, which has had a positive effect on the Group’s net interest income, but also increased costs. Because of the geopolitical uncertainty caused by the war, the Group has maintained strong liquidity buffers. Otherwise, the war has had only a minor effect on the Group’s operations.
  • Long-term customer financing (long-term loans and leased assets) excluding unrealised fair value changes totalled EUR 32,948 million (EUR 30,660 million) at the end of December and saw an increase of 7.5% (5.5%). New long-term customer financing in January–December was at the same level as in the previous year and amounted to EUR 4,370 million (EUR 4,375 million). Short-term customer financing totalled EUR 1,575 million (EUR 1,457 million).
  • Of all long-term customer financing, the amount of green finance aimed at environmentally sustainable investments totalled EUR 4,795 million (EUR 3,251 million) and the amount of social finance aimed at investments promoting equality and communality totalled EUR 2,234 million (EUR 1,734 million) at the end of December. The total amount of this financing increased by 41.0% (42.9%) from the previous year. The ratio of green and social finance to long-term customer financing excluding unrealised fair value changes grew by 5.1 percentage points to 21.3%. In late 2023, the Group published its sustainability agenda, which extends to the year 2035. By the end of 2030, the Group’s goal is to increase the share of green and social financing to one third of all long-term customer financing, and by the end of 2035 reduce emissions from financed properties by 38% from the 2022 level.
  • In 2023, new long-term funding reached EUR 10,087 million (EUR 8,827 million). At the end of December, the total funding was EUR 43,320 million (EUR 40,210 million), of which long-term funding made up EUR 39,332 million (EUR 35,560 million). In March and in June 2023, the Group decided to repay the debt related to the European Central Bank’s targeted longer-term refinancing operations (TLTRO III). The debt totalled EUR 2,000 million.
  • The Group’s total liquidity remained very strong, standing at EUR 11,633 million (EUR 11,506 million) at the end of the financial year. The liquidity coverage ratio (LCR) stood at 409% (257%) and the net stable funding ratio (NSFR) at 124% (120%) at the end of the year.
  • The Board of Directors proposes to the Annual General Meeting to be held in spring 2024 a dividend of EUR 1.69 per share, totalling EUR 66.0 million. The total dividend payment in 2023 was EUR 1.73 per share, totalling EUR 67.6 million.
  • Outlook for 2024: The Group expects its net operating profit excluding unrealised fair value changes to be at the same level or higher than in 2023. The Group expects its capital adequacy ratio and leverage ratio to remain strong. The valuation principles set in the IFRS framework may cause significant but temporary unrealised fair value changes, some of which increase the volatility of net operating profit and make it more difficult to estimate. A more detailed outlook is presented in the section Outlook for 2024.

Comparison figures deriving from the income statement and figures describing the change during the reporting period are based on figures reported for the corresponding period in 2022. Comparison figures deriving from the balance sheet and other cross-sectional items are based on the figures of 31 December 2022 unless otherwise stated.

Key figures

 Jan–Dec 2023Jan–Dec 2022Change, %
Net operating profit excluding unrealised fair value changes (EUR million)*1761703.2
Net operating profit (EUR million)*139215-35.5
Net interest income (EUR million)*2592417.5
New long-term customer financing (EUR million)*4,3704,375-0.1
New long-term funding (EUR million)*10,0878,82714.3
Cost-to-income ratio, %*32.423.935.7
Return on equity (ROE), %*6.69.9-33.5
 31 Dec 202331 Dec 2022Change, %
Long-term customer financing (EUR million)*32,02229,1449.9
Balance sheet total (EUR million)49,73647,7364.2
CET1 capital (EUR million)1,5501,4824.6
Tier 1 capital (EUR million)1,5501,4824.6
Total own funds (EUR million)1,5501,4824.6
CET1 capital ratio, %103.497.65.9
Tier 1 capital ratio, %103.497.65.9
Total capital ratio, %103.497.65.9
Leverage ratio, %12.0111.63.8
Personnel1851755.7

* Alternative performance measure.
All figures presented in the Financial Statements Bulletin are those of MuniFin Group, unless otherwise stated

Comment on the 2023 financial year by President and CEO Esa Kallio

The year 2023 was the fourth consecutive year marked by instability. The rising geopolitical tensions and market volatility did not significantly affect MuniFin’s performance, and we were able to successfully carry out our core mandate of ensuring the availability of affordable long-term financing for our customers.

In 2023, the inflation exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022 took a downward turn, and interest rate hikes tapered off. Geopolitical tensions increased across the world throughout the year, and expectations of central bank measures caused uncertainty in the capital markets.

In Finland, the first half of the year was characterised by the parliamentary elections held in April and the ensuing government formation talks that stretched into June. The new government programme is unlikely to affect municipal operations directly. In the housing sector, our customers have been concerned about the government programme’s entries concerning right-of-occupancy housing and state-subsidised housing production. In this uncertain operating environment, our role as our customers’ trusted partner has grown even more important.

The demand for financing from our customers in the municipality sector was quiet at the beginning of the year, but demand picked up towards the end of the year close to the previous year’s level. Temporary tax benefits boosted municipal finances, causing municipalities to have lower financing needs. In municipal finances, 2023 was still a relatively good year, but started to weaken at the end of the year.

In the affordable social housing sector, financing needs were higher than in the year before. Our housing sector customers have suffered from rising construction costs for several years now, which has decreased the start of new building contracts. Rising interest expenses have taken a further toll on them since 2022. Towards the end of the year, however, the demand for financing started to pick up as construction costs levelled off and right-of-occupancy project starts were rushed because of the new government programme’s entries.

The new wellbeing services counties started their operations on 1 January 2023, and we financed the wellbeing services counties within the limits set by the Municipal Guarantee Board (MGB). The EUR 400 million limit for long-term finance set by the MGB was reached before the end of the year, and we could no longer fulfil wellbeing services counties’ financing requests for 2023 after that.

Our funding operations were a success despite the fluctuation in the capital markets. Our issuances were well-timed, and all our transactions were successful. We continued to keep our liquidity at a strong level throughout the year to ensure the availability of financing for our customers in all conditions.

Our operations continued in the usual manner in 2023, and our profitability was slightly higher than in 2022.

In 2023, we revised our strategy to further underline our core mandate. Our revised strategy highlights sustainability and our role as an enabler of sustainable welfare in society. We also made efforts to better assess and measure the impact of our operations. In October, we published our sustainability agenda, which sets the framework and goals for our long-term sustainability work. The agenda focuses on our business operations, i.e. the products and services offered to our customers, and the long-term impact achieved through them.

Outlook for 2024

The global economy is starting 2024 in a weakening economic cycle. The demand-slowing effects of interest rate hikes are reaching their peak and making sources of growth scarce, while fiscal policies are contracting as governments need to curb their debt. The geopolitical environment continues to remain unpredictable. On the upside, the cooling economy is helping to cushion cost pressures, and inflation is falling towards the ECB’s target of 2% in the euro area. The ECB is expected to commence interest rate cuts in 2024.

In Finland, the combined effect of factors saddling growth will peak in the first half of 2024. As the months pass and inflation eases, consumer purchasing power increases and interest rates start to come down moderately, the domestic market will gradually kick off economic recovery. Towards the end of the year, the export market may also start to contribute to recovery. Because of the low starting level, Finland’s GDP growth may nevertheless remain slightly in the negative in 2024.

The economic downturn will inevitably reflect on employment. In many sectors, Finland is suffering from such high structural labour shortages that strong growth in unemployment seems unlikely, but the employment outlook is nevertheless looking risky. It remains difficult to estimate how severe the construction sector’s recession will become and what multiplier effects this will have in other sectors. The euro area’s inflation trajectory is also looking somewhat uncertain. If inflation proves more persistent than anticipated and expected interest rate cuts are postponed, the downturn may drag on and push unemployment up more than expected.

Although Finland’s government programme sports ambitious fiscal efforts, public finances are projected to continue to show a significant deficit and high levels of debt in the coming years. The higher-than-expected increase in health and social services expenditure and financing costs and the cyclical decrease in tax income are making public finances difficult to balance. After a few exceptionally strong years, the municipal sector will return into serious deficit as various positive non-recurring items cancel out, costs increase and central government transfers decrease. The main uncertainties in municipal finances stem from the general economic development, the upcoming changes to central government transfers and the potential additional costs arising from the transfer of employment and economic development services (TE services) to municipalities.

Considering the above-mentioned circumstances, the Group expects its net operating profit excluding unrealised fair value changes to be at the same level as or higher than in 2023. The Group expects its capital adequacy ratio and leverage ratio to remain strong. The valuation principles set in the IFRS framework may cause significant but temporary unrealised fair value changes, some of which increase the volatility of net operating profit and make it more difficult to estimate.

These estimates are based on a current assessment of the development of MuniFin Group’s operations and the operating environment.

Municipality Finance Plc

Further information:

Esa Kallio, President and CEO, tel. +358 50 337 7953
Harri Luhtala, Executive Vice President, Finance, CFO, tel. +358 50 592 9454

Download the full Financial Statements Bulletin 1 January–31 December 2023

MuniFin_Financial_Statements_Bulletin_2023

MuniFin’s annual report 2023 will be published around 7 March 2024. On the same date, MuniFin Group will also publish the Pillar III disclosure based on the Capital Requirements Regulation, and the Corporate Governance Statement.