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Bank that pioneered green bonds sets ultimatum for its clients

The Swedish bank that brought the first green bond to the world over a decade ago is now forcing corporate clients to prove they’re clean enough to stay on its books.

SEB AB Chief Executive Officer Johan Torgeby, who spent years as a corporate banker pitching green bonds to issuers back when “no one” wanted them, says the bank will work with clients to improve their sustainability credentials. But if they don’t step up, he says SEB will sever ties. | Photo: Janerik Henriksson /TT/NTB Scanpix

SEB AB Chief Executive Officer Johan Torgeby, who spent years as a corporate banker pitching green bonds to issuers back when “no one” wanted them, says the bank will work with clients to improve their sustainability credentials. But if they don’t step up, he says SEB will sever ties.

"You have very many long-term relationships," Torgeby said by phone. "Today, you view those relationships in a different light than you might have done 10 years ago." Though it’s not "an easy thing...you have to decide if you want to disengage completely."

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