Deutsche Bank’s withdrawal from Whitehaven’s bond issue follows a concerted public campaign by Market Forces and other community and civil society groups in Australia and Germany.
A media report in Germany confirmed publicly this week that Deutsche Bank has withdrawn from its involvement in a bond issue for climate-wrecking Whitehaven Coal, following a concerted people-powered campaign coordinated by Market Forces. Business media outlet Handelsblatt reported that:
“According to information from financial circles, the investment bankers at Deutsche Bank tried to get a mandate for the placement of [Whitehaven Coal’s] bond last year… Deutsche Bank committees finally stopped the in-house investment bankers’ advance, according to financial circles.”
After the potential bond deal with Deutsche Bank was uncovered, Market Forces coordinated two hard-hitting newspaper advertisements in major media outlets, thousands of their supporters wrote to Deutsche Bank about the deal, many more sent Christmas cards directly to the bank’s CEO, and hundreds of comments were left on the bank’s social media posts. Ahead of Deutsche Bank’s annual general meeting (AGM), they also commissioned legal advice confirming Deutsche Bank would breach its internal coal exclusion policy by proceeding with the Whitehaven bond deal. This followed publication of a shareholder statement in Deutsche Bank’s AGM papers, drawing further attention to the bank’s cosy relationship with Whitehaven.
Following this pressure, Deutsche Bank is out of the bond deal, capping off the end of an almost eight-month campaign that has united activists across two continents.
What’s next for the campaign to stop Whitehaven’s new coal mines?
Although Deutsche Bank has denied debt to Whitehaven’s bond issuance, it remains exposed to the coal corporation through its debt lending. Whitehaven has signalled it will seek to refinance that loan later this year. Market Forces will be keeping a close eye on Deutsche Bank and making sure it upholds its stated commitments on climate action.
Meanwhile, the other key banks still remaining in Whitehaven’s credit syndicate are based in Australia, China and Japan. Australian banks NAB and Westpac play an important role –jointly providing over 20% of the funds in 2020 and helping to organise other banks’ participation in the deal. Market Forces and partners will be turning up the heat on NAB and Westpac this year and making sure they walk away from Whitehaven. You can get more information here, and also support by contacting the banks linked to Whitehaven Coal by filling out the action form on this page.