Alba export credits close to signing

07 November 2003
The $450 million export credits facility for Aluminium Bahrain (Alba)is expected to be signed by mid-November, bankers close to the deal say.

'The term sheet has been accepted and we are just waiting for the global facility agent [ Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation] to finish its review of the inter-creditor issues in the documentation,' said a banker involved in the transaction on 4 November. 'The deal could be signed next week.'

The facility comprises $300 million of cover from Switzerland's Export Garantie (ERG) and $150 million from France's Coface (MEED 8:8:03; 18:4:03). BNP Paribasand HSBCare the lead arrangers, with the former acting as the facility agent and documentation bank.

The tranche is the last component in a multi-faceted financing package for Alba. Since first proposed, the export credits tranche has grown in size from $300 million. Project sources say the additional debt will be used to replace the originally planned equity contribution and that the fifth potline project will now be entirely debt-financed.

Although all the other four tranches of the financing have long been signed, none of them - a 10-year, $200 million local currency bond, a $500 million commercial debt package, a $300 million metals tranche and a $250 million Islamically-structured facility - have been drawn down.

'There continue to be problems relating to the extension of Alba's quota agreement,' says another banker involved in the transaction. 'It is a local legal issue, and there are constitutional implications. While it is dragging on it is not a serious problem yet, though it could become one if it is not resolved reasonably soon.'

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