Abu Dhabi close to signing reduced debt package for nuclear scheme

11 July 2013

The package now has more funding from Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is close to completing the funding for its $30bn nuclear power project at Baraka after the lenders on the project agreed to significantly reduce the size of the loans they are making to the scheme.

Under the new financing plan, commercial banks are set to lend less than $1bn to the scheme, less than half the $2bn they were originally expected to lend on the project. The deal agreed in late 2012 also called for around $12bn from export credit agencies, and $6bn from the Abu Dhabi government that was expected to be funded through government bonds.

The ECA tranches are also understood to have been “significantly reduced”, perhaps also by as much as half, according to sources close to the project. The changes to the financial structure of the scheme will leave Abu Dhabi funding well over half of the project cost directly due to concerns about the interest bill of a $20bn debt package with a maximum tenor of 23 years.

The only thing left to happen is for the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, the emirate’s highest decision-making authority, to approve the deal. “We are now just waiting for the Executive Council for the final sign off,” says one source. “All the debt tranches have been reduced and Abu Dhabi will fill the hole with direct funding.”

Abu Dhabi forced a radical shake-up of the financing plans for the project in early 2013, despite being presented with a completed deal in late 2012 that it just had to sign. The banks funding the project are understood to be the UK’s HSBC and Standard Chartered, and the local National Bank of Abu Dhabi, Union National Bank and First Gulf Bank. The ECAs are the Export Import Bank of Korea (Kexim) and the Export Import Bank of the US (US Exim).

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