Barclays added to list of banks banned from Texas muni bond sales

The list of investment banks no longer eligible to underwrite municipal bonds in Texas due to their lack of compliance with state laws aimed at protecting the fossil fuel and firearm industries grew on Friday with the addition of Barclays. 

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office announced that “until further notice, we will not approve any public security issued on or after today’s date in which Barclays purchases or underwrites the public security or is otherwise a party to a covered contract relating to the public security.” 

Barclays on Friday joined UBS and Citigroup in being prohibited from underwriting municipal bonds in Texas under state laws aimed at protecting the fossil fuel and firearms industries.

Bloomberg News

As part of a crackdown launched last fall on compliance with 2021 Texas laws prohibiting state and local government contracts valued at $100,000 or more with companies that “boycott” or “discriminate” against the oil, natural gas, or firearm industries, the office placed Barclays and several other financial firms under review over their involvement with the Net Zero Alliance, which seeks a transition to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

“When asked for more information concerning its (environmental, social, and governance) commitments, Barclays elected not to respond to the questions and acknowledged that by doing so it would likely forfeit its ability to contract with Texas governmental entities,” the AG’s office said in a statement.

A Barclays spokesperson declined to comment. 

As for the other investment banks placed under review last fall — Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, RBC Capital Markets, and Wells Fargo – the AG’s office said “we have not heard from any of the remaining banks under review that they will not be able to respond to our inquiries.”

UBS, which dropped negotiated muni underwriting nationally, and Citigroup, which is shutting down its nation-wide muni business, were previously barred from Texas deals for flunking the state’s litmus tests on fossil fuel and gun policies respectively.

Paxton’s office said it will continue to ensure compliance with state law, “while helping Texas maintain the best municipal bond market in the country.”

“The Office of the Attorney General will continue to vigorously enforce our laws that prevent taxpayer funds from going to companies whose ESG policies harm Texans or key Texas industries,” Paxton said in a statement.

Other states have followed Texas’ lead and enacted similar laws that led to underwriter bans. The Oklahoma Treasurer Office’s list of fossil fuel boycotters last year included Wells Fargo, JPMorgan, and Bank of America. 

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