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Scope closes first tranche of social bond after delay

Scope closes first tranche of social bond after delay
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Scope closes first tranche of social bond after delay

Finance | Celina Ribeiro | 1 Jun 2012

Scope closed the first tranche of its pioneering £20m social investment bond yesterday, but the product took longer than expected to sell.

The disability charity launched its £20m social investment programme on the Euro MTF Stock Exchange in October last year, with a plan to use the money invested in the programme to fund revenue-generating activities, such as shops and fundraising.

But the first tranche, which raised £2m, has taken longer than expected to sell. When speaking to civilsociety.co.uk earlier this year, the team behind the bond at Scope said they had expected it to close around late March or early April. It has taken exactly eight months for the first round of the bond to close.

Geetha Rabindrakumar (pictured), Scope’s director of finance, said that the delay is a result of the charity needing to set up processes for the inaugural tranche.

“This is a first in terms of this programme and we had some more work to do with the agents who were providing us with back-office functions and in particular Capita, which has supported us in getting a mechanism in place to allow investors who wouldn’t normally invest in the international bond market to invest in us,” she told civilsociety.co.uk this morning.

“The process of setting that up, and the legal agreements, took a bit longer than we expected but having gone through that process means that there’s now an established mechanism in place for other charities to use and follow.”

Rabindrakumar said while there is yet no timescale for the release of future tranches, she “absolutely” expects that they will move faster.

“As the first charity to set up this programme we’ve developed the processes, documentation and agreements from start,” she said. “But having gone through that process once, the framework’s now in place for us to be able to proceed with further tranches more speedily.”

Investors in the bond come in various shapes and sizes, including trusts and foundations, wealth managers, unit funds and private investors. As expected, Esmeé Fairbairn Foundation is an investor in the first tranche, as are Nesta and Rathbones.

Scope chief executive Richard Hawkes said the response to the first-of-its-kind social bond was “unprecedented”.

“It demonstrates that there are investors out there who are looking for products that offer them social returns as well as financial ones,” he said. 

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