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TORONTO, March 8, 2021 /CNW/ - BMO Financial Group (TSX: BMO) (NYSE: BMO) (or the "Bank") today announced the offering of CAD $750 million of a 5-year Women in Business Bond. Proceeds of the bonds will be allocated toward women-owned enterprises as defined in BMO's Sustainable Financing Framework, including micro, small and medium-sized businesses.
Innovating to support an inclusive recovery
"As Canadian businesses embark on their recovery from the economic impacts of COVID-19, many women-led businesses will face additional hurdles created by systemic barriers stemming from gender bias," said Caroline Dufaux, Head of Capital and Funding, Corporate Treasury, BMO Financial Group. "The launch of our innovative Women in Business Bond reinforces BMO's purpose-driven commitments to support an inclusive society with zero barriers and a thriving economy by doubling our support for women-owned businesses in Canada."
"Women business owners have been among the hardest hit by COVID-19 related closures. Many owners are in service-based industries that continue to struggle, and quite a few have had to take on even more responsibility at home, which has added another layer of challenge as they work to run their businesses," said Mike Bonner, Head, Canadian Business Banking, BMO Financial Group. "We recognize the power of women and their contributions to the economy and, in order for us to recover, we all need to do our part to support women-owned small and medium-sized businesses."
Leveraging our Sustainable Financing Framework to build best practice solutions
The Women in Business Bond is a solution directly from BMO's Sustainable Financing Framework, which aligns to BMO's Purpose and its promise to grow the good for a sustainable future, a thriving economy, and an inclusive society and defines eligible assets across seven green and four social project categories. Each category contributes to advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals and solving the sustainability challenges facing the world. In line with market best practice, the Framework is aligned to the International Capital Markets Association's (ICMA) 2018 Green Bond Principles, 2018 Social Bond Principles and 2018 Sustainability Bond Guidelines and the Loan Market Association (LMA)'s 2018 Green Loan Principles. It obtained a second party opinion from Sustainalytics.
Additional information on the Women in Business Bond issuance
The Women in Business Bonds will bear interest at a fixed rate of 1.758 per cent per annum and will mature on March 10, 2026. The Women in Business Bonds constitute deposit liabilities of BMO Financial Group pursuant to the Bank Act (Canada), are unsubordinated and unsecured obligations of the Bank and rank pari passu with all present or future unsubordinated and unsecured obligations of the Bank without any preference among themselves (except as otherwise prescribed by law and subjects to the exercise of the Bank resolution powers).
The Women in Business Bonds are bail-inable notes. Bail-inable notes are subject to conversion in whole or in part—by means of a transaction or series of transactions and in one or more steps—into common shares of the Bank or any of its affiliates under subsection 39.2(2.3) of the Canada Deposit Incorporation Act (CDIC Act) and to variation or extinguishment in consequence, and subject to the application of the laws of the Province of Quebec and the federal laws of Canada applicable therein in respect of the operation of the CDIC Act with respect to the Women in Business Bonds.
The Women in Business Bonds have not been, and will not be, registered in the United States under the United States Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the "Securities Act"), or the securities laws of any state of the United States and may not be offered, sold or delivered, directly or indirectly in the United States or to, or for the account or benefit of, a "U.S. person" (as defined in Regulation S under the Securities Act) absent registration under the Securities Act or an applicable exemption from such registration requirements. This press release does not constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation to buy securities in the United States or in any other jurisdiction where such offer or solicitation would be unlawful.
The offering is expected to close on March 10, 2021. BMO Capital Markets is acting as lead agent on the issue. BMO will report publicly on the use of the BMO Women in Business Bond proceeds within one year of issuance and annually thereafter.
BMO and the advancement of women
BMO is committed to the advancement of women as leaders in the bank, and in the business community as entrepreneurs and investors.
Through our Zero Barriers to Inclusion 2025 strategy, BMO has set new diversity goals for senior leader and executive roles, including maintaining our leadership in gender diversity with at least 40% of senior leader roles filled by employees who identify as women.
BMO's BMO for Women program is focused on gender parity for our clients, supporting the growth of women-owned businesses and empowering women to feel confident about their finances and their financial futures.
In 2018, BMO committed to make $3 billion in capital available to women business owners in Canada over three years. In 2019, in support of our Purpose, we made a bold commitment to double our support for women entrepreneurs by 2025.
In 2020 the BMO Celebrating Women Grant Program awarded $100,000 in grants to 10 women business owners in addition to launching a women-owned business directory to encourage Canadians to support women entrepreneurs.
BMO became the first Canadian bank to sign the UN Women's Empowerment Principles in 2019.
In 2021, BMO announced $1.2 million in funding to SheEO – a not-for-profit company which offers financial support to businesses led by women and non-binary people. BMO's financial commitment will allow SheEO to fund all 2021 venture applicant companies working to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
About BMO Financial Group
Serving customers for 200 years and counting, BMO is a highly diversified financial services provider - the 8th largest bank, by assets, in North America. With total assets of $973 billion as of January 31, 2021, and a team of diverse and highly engaged employees, BMO provides a broad range of personal and commercial banking, wealth management and investment banking products and services to more than 12 million customers and conducts business through three operating groups: Personal and Commercial Banking, BMO Wealth Management and BMO Capital Markets.
SOURCE BMO Financial Group
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