The catastrophe bond, which will pay out depending on the size of
the outbreak, its growth rate and the number of countries affected,
is the first of its kind for epidemics. It should mean money is
disbursed much faster than during West Africa's Ebola crisis.
Ebola spread across the region in the early months of 2014. Michael
Bennett, head of derivatives and structured finance at the World
Bank's capital markets department, said that if the pandemic
emergency financing facility (PEF) had existed in 2014, some $100
million could have been mobilised as early as July.
In reality, money did not begin to flow on this scale until three
months later, by which time the number of deaths from Ebola had
"In the end about 11,000 people died in that pandemic and it's
estimated that the cost to the countries most affected – Guinea,
Liberia and Sierre Leone - was about $2.8 billion," Bennett said.
The PEF will offer coverage to all countries eligible for financing
from the International Development Agency (IDA), the arm of the
World Bank dedicated to the world's poorest countries.
It covers outbreaks of infectious diseases most likely to cause
major epidemics, including pandemic influenza strains; coronaviruses,
including SARS; filoviruses, which include Ebola and Marburg; plus
others such as Crimean Congo fever, Rift Valley fever and Lassa
Bennett said the PEF as a whole would provide more than $500 million
of coverage against pandemics over the next five years. This
includes today's $425 million transaction, comprising $320 million
raised through the bond market and $105 million through swaps
The transaction was oversubscribed by 200 percent, attracting
interest from dedicated cat bond investors, asset managers, pension
funds and endowments, the World Bank said.
For the pandemic bond, the World Bank will pay bondholders a coupon
that replicates an insurance premium plus a funding spread, in
return for a payout if the bond is triggered.
[to top of second column]
"If a trigger event occurs, instead of repaying the bond in full,
some or all of the principal is transferred to the PEF trust fund,"
Bennett said. "So essentially the investors are acting like
Under the swaps transactions, the swaps counterparty pays out if a
trigger event occurs.
"The objective of offering the risk in both forms is that the bonds
and swaps appeal to different types of investors, and therefore … we
are creating the broadest possible investor pool for this risk,"
said Bennett. That helped drive down prices.
A replenishable cash window available from 2018 will provide funding
for diseases that may not meet the activation criteria for the bond,
whilst future donor commitments may be used to purchase additional
coverage from the market.
Munich Re, which helped develop the insurance component of the PEF
in conjunction with Swiss Re and catastrophe risk modeller AIR
Worldwide, said pandemics were among the most likely uninsured risks
The annual global cost of moderately severe to severe pandemics is
estimated at roughly $570 billion, or 0.7 percent of global income,
the World Bank said.
(Reporting by Claire Milhench; editing by Andrew Roche)
[© 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2017 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.